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Inigo Jones

  • Object:

    Intaglio

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1770-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Burch, Edward (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Engraved gemstone

  • Museum number:

    3339-1856

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case 2, shelf 3

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.

The architect Inigo Jones (1573-1652), the subject of this intaglio, was inspired by the work of Andrea Palladio (1508-80), the great architect of Venice and the Veneto, whose designs for churches and villas drew on classical sources. Inigo Jones brought the principles of Renaissance architecture to Britain in the first quarter of the seventeenth century with buildings such as the Queen's House at Greenwich and the Banqueting House, Whitehall. He was a major influence on the architecture of the eighteenth century in Britain when taste in the arts in general echoed the style of Greek and Roman antiquity. Admired and celebrated nationally, he became a hero of the neo-classical movement and his portrait was in demand. Versions are found as paintings and sculptures, and a number of eighteenth century intaglio gem-engravings of Inigo Jones exist similar to this one. The original portrait from which these and many of the other likenesses of the architect depend is Anthony van Dyck's painting of c.1633, now in the Hermitage, St; Petersburg. This is thought to have been painted and then issued as an engraving as part of a series of portraits of famous artists of Van Dyck's time. The image, also known from a celebrated chalk drawing by Van Dyck in the collection of the Dukes of Bedford, was subsequently reproduced and disseminated through works by Wenceslas Hollar, Michael Rysbrack, William Hogarth and others. Edward Burch (1730-1814), gem-engraver, medallist, wax-modeller and miniaturist, has been suggested as the maker of this intaglio. Burch is considered to be one of the outstanding native British gem-engravers of the eighteenth century, and is known to worked on a series of portraits of worthies, including Shakespeare and Newton.

Physical description

Vertical oval intaglio depicting Inigo Jones. Light grey translucent smoky quartz. The subject is shown facing front, his head turned slightly to the left. He is bearded and wears a cap from beneath which long curling locks of hair appear. He has a broad collar and buttoned coat.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1770-1800 (made)

Artist/maker

Burch, Edward (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Engraved gemstone

Dimensions

Height: 23 mm, Width: 20 mm

Object history note

Vendor not recorded

Historical context note

A number of other eighteenth century intaglio gem-engravings of Inigo Jones exist (see Tassie casts 14236-40 and 15778). The original portrait from which these and other likenesses of the architect depend is Anthony van Dyck's painting of c.1633, now in the Hermitage, St; Petersburg. This is thought to have been painted and then engraved as part of van Dyck's Iconography, a series of portraits of famous artists of his time. The image, also known from a celebrated chalk drawing by van Dyck in the collection of the Dukes of Bedford, was subsequently reproduced in works by Wenceslas Hollar, Rysbrack, Hogarth and others. The tentative attribution to Edward Burch which has historically accompanied this gem, and which may originate in Machell Cox's catalogue entry, does not appear to be based on any documentary evidence. The gem could, however, be one of Burch's series of worthies, which also includes Shakespeare and Newton.

Descriptive line

Intaglio depicting bust of Inigo Jones, oval smoky quartz; possibly by Edward Burch, Britain, about 1770-1800

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1856. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 31.
Machell Cox, E., Victoria & Albert Museum Catalogue of Engraved Gems. London, Typescript, 1935, Part 2, Section 2, p. 230.

Materials

Macroquartz; Smoky quartz

Techniques

Gem engraving

Categories

Sculpture; Portraits; Architecture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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