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Intaglio - Unknown lady

Unknown lady

  • Object:

    Intaglio

  • Place of origin:

    England (Possibly, made)
    France (Possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gemstone

  • Credit Line:

    Given by R. C. Lucas

  • Museum number:

    234-1865

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The art of engraving gemstones can be traced back to ancient Greece in the 8th century BC and earlier. Techniques passed down to the Egyptians and then to the Romans. There were major revivals of interest in engraved gems in Europe during the Byantine era, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and again in the 18th and 19th centuries. At each stage cameos and intaglios, these skillful carvings on a minute scale, were much prized and collected, sometimes as symbols of power mounted in jewelled settings, sometimes as small objects for private devotion or enjoyment. This gem is in the neo-classical style popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when taste in the arts echoed the subject matter and style of the Greek and Roman masters. Thousands of gems were made in this style in Italy and brought back by British Grand Tourists, who went there to visit the newly-discovered classical antiquities and archaeological sites. It was fashionable to have portraits executed in the style of a Greek or Roman noble. It could have been made in either England or France.

Physical description

Vertical oval intaglio. Reddish carnelian. Depicting bust of an unknown lady in profile to left. Her shoulders are covered by a simple gown. Her hair is partly caught up, and partly hangs down onto her shoulders in long wild locks. There is a diadem in her hair.

Place of Origin

England (Possibly, made)
France (Possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1750 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gemstone

Dimensions

Height: 19 mm, Width: 16 mm

Object history note

Given by the British neo-classical sculptor Richard Cockle Lucas in 1865, together with twenty-two ivory carvings, twelve waxes, sixteen other gems, a marble group and a portrait in plaster.

Historical context note

Engraved gemstones of all dates were widely collected in Italy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Many were brought back by British Grand Tourists, and important collections were formed.

Descriptive line

Intaglio, oval carnelian, bust of an unknown lady, England or France, about 1750

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1865. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 30
Machell Cox, E., Victoria & Albert Museum Catalogue of Engraved Gems. London, Typescript, 1935, Part 2, Section 2, p. 231

Production Note

Attribution note: Red chalcedony

Materials

Carnelian; Microquartz; Gemstone; Chalcedony

Techniques

Gem engraving

Subjects depicted

Lady

Categories

Jewellery; Portraits; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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