Intaglio Fragment with a Satyr or Paniskos

11008503-2005_049_002_Bpa_ARC.tif

Title

Intaglio Fragment with a Satyr or Paniskos

Date

1st-2nd Century AD

Context

Roman

Medium/Dimensions

Banded agate
5/8 x 5/8 in. (1.6 x 1.6 cm)

Object Number

2005.049.002

Description

The classical tradition of carving semi-precious gemstones was adopted from the ancient Near East, under the Bronze Age palace societies of Crete and Mycenae. The design would be cut into the flat surface of a stone in order to make a personal seal or stamp, in the manner of family signet rings today. They are often called "intaglios", from the Italian verb "to cut". From this tradition emerged, in Hellenistic times, one of decorating the same hard-stones, not with an engraved design for practical use, but rather an image in relief, to be used as personal adornment. Poetic descriptions of these objects, whether fictive or not, make it clear that cameos and intaglios were admired for the exquisite workmanship that made them talking points in their own right. They have been widely imitated ever since.

The stones from which these were carved using hand-drills, cutting wheels, and a series of increasingly delicate abrasives, represent some of the consummate technological accomplishments of the ancient world. The exploitation of the geological layering of the stones to bring out the image against a contrasting background is a hallmark of ancient cameos.

There has been much discussion whether or not magnifying glasses (which existed) were used: although it seems almost impossible that the naked eye could control carving so minute, it is also unlikely that the available lenses were sufficiently perfect to avoid potentially disastrous distortions.

The tombstone of a gem-cutter working in Roman times at Sardis records the age of his death at only eighteen, suggesting that the artists began working extremely early. The names of these craftsmen, where known, are almost always Greek, even in Roman times.

The satyr or paniskos on this cameo carries a hunting stick in his right hand and has an animal skin suspended over his outstretched left.

Credit Line

Classical Purchase Fund

Exhibits/Publications

From Pharaohs to Emperors: New Egyptian and Classical Antiquities at Emory, Michael C. Carlos Museum, January 14 - April 2, 2006|
Exuberance of Meaning: The Art Patronage of Catherine the Great (1762-1796), Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA, September 21, 2013 - January 5, 2014|
Passion of the Empress: Catherine the Great's Art Patronage, Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, Washington, DC, February 15 - June 8, 2014
Peter Lacovara and Jasper Gaunt, "From Pharaohs to Emperors: Egyptian, Near Eastern & Classical Antiquities at Emory," Minerva 17 (January/February 2006): 9-16.

Rights

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2005.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or mccm.collections.services@emory.edu. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View

No

Citation

“Intaglio Fragment with a Satyr or Paniskos,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed September 25, 2017, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7592.

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