Additions and corrections to the published catalogue

Theatrical masks on the Marlborough Gems

Professor J.R. Green (Sydney) kindly offers the following commentary on some pieces. References to masks (4XJ) are from his and A. Seeberg's revised third edition of T.B.L. Webster's, Monuments Illustrating New Comedy (1995)

Gem
  • 291

291 = F. Ficoroni, Le maschere sceniche (1736) pl. 52. (4xJ 46)

327 Mask of a pornoboskos (brothel-keeper), perhaps copying a late 2nd-century original, with wavy rather than corkscrew beard.

342 Compare the mask 4XJ 10 and with it 4XJ 7. An old man, rather than pornoboskos (see in MNC i, 14-15). The whole series is a fine example of what happens when a picture gets adopted into the 'art' repertoire, removed from the actuality of the stage.

343 Probably echoes an early Hellenistic version, from the large eyes and shape of the beard.

365 Perhaps not ancient.

438 Both masks are comic, perhaps conceived as father and son.

439 Compare items listed under 4XJ 68 (pornoboskos).

440 Probably modern.

443 Certainly a cook, and the youth's mask is odd – mouth closed, and the head wreathed (?). Perhaps not ancient.

514 Almost certainly a cook.

515 This may echo an early Hellenistic prototype – the sleepy eyes (in MNC 'New Style'), but the form of the mouth with a hint of the actor's mouth within is rare so early – commoner from the 2nd century AD. It should be one of the wavy-haired (episeistos) masks and possibly the old man rather than the slave,

519 More likely a papposilenos than a pornoboskos. (4xJ 68,i)

623 The mask is of a youth, to whom Pan may be attracted,

711 Fairly certainly a cook.

We have identified that the following Marlborough gems were also published by F. Ficoroni, Le maschere sceniche (1736): pl. 32 = 342, possibly pl. 50, row 4.2 = 276, possibly pl. 68, 1 = 437, and pl.82, 2 = 520.

British gem engravers

Julia Kagan, Gem engraving in Britain from antiquity to the present (Beazley Archive, 2010) includes full discussion also of British gem collectors, including the Duke of Marlborough and his sources.

The book also illustrates a number of the Marlborough gems:

Pls. 14.1 (165), 14.2 (108); p. 112, fig. 6.22a (429); pls. 20.2 (324), 21.1 (391); pp. 128, fig. 7.24 (753), 130, fig. 7.27 (373); pls. 25.1 (1), 25.2 (158), 35.2 (cf. 754 and p. 291), 42.4 (524).

Additions and corrections to the published catalogue by gem numbers

46

This charming drawing, inspired by the seated grieving woman on the Marlborough gem, has recently been brought to our attention by James Baxendale. The drawing (circa 1770) is by Mary Hartley (1736-1803).The inscription (by Mary Hartley) to the drawing is ‘From a figure, (in a smaller size,) engraved by Bartolow’ after a broken gem in the Duke of Marlborough’s collection. The gem contains another female figure with a trumpet in her mouth, the rest broken off.  This figure is supposed to be a conquered province’.

Drawing - Mary Hartley

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Gem no. 46

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56

Belvoir Castle. Iron swivel ring with silver relief. Behind it is a cornelian intaglio.

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58

Sold by Fifth Avenue Art Galleries (New York)  Jan. 16, 1909, lot 142

See catalogue

61

The Claudius Cameo appears in the Database of Art Objects at the Jeu de Paume, listed as one of the pieces of cultural plunder seized by the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg: (http://www.errproject.org/jeudepaume/card_view.php?CardId=8285).

It was taken from the Rothschild collection and has apparently been repatriated to France.

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85

For a photo of the electrotype see 387.

94

The following were in the Collection Fritz Gans (Friedrich L. von Gans, Frankfurt), published on plate 32 of his collection: 94, 114, 357, 362, 371, 510, 542 and an unidentified cameo (Oxford electrotype misnumbered 512).

The gems went to The Hague and were published in The Bachstitz Gallery collection: volume III: Objects of art and paintings, Berlin 1921.

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101

101 is in the Fundación Lázaro Galdiano, Madrid, inventory number:  717 (CAMPS CAZORLA, Emilio en Inventario del Museo Lázaro 1948 – 1950).

114

Previous provenance: Friedrich Ludwig (Fritz) Gans (1833-1920), industrialist and collector, Frankfurt (according to a pencilled note in the 1875 album), Lucie Bigelow Rosen (1890-1968), New York: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucie_Bigelow_Rosen; by descent; sold Thomaston Auction, Maine, USA, 6 November 2010, lot 271 ($70,000); private collection, London.

Image of gem no. 114Image of gem no. 114

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Gem no. 114

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Additional information: see entry 94

125

The following gems have been identified in a private collection in Texas:

125, 272, 418, 454, 469, 495, 631 and 684

128

The material, described by Story-Maskelyne as ‘Venus-hair stone’ is a clear crystal with rutile crystal inclusions. Jeffrey Spier has pointed out that the stone may indeed be the chrysothrix (‘golden hair’) referred to in the Orphic Lithika, a lapidary probably dating to late antiquity. The stone, described in it as clear but containing what looks like strands of golden hair, is said to have been created by Helios and bestows heroism and honour. Besides the Marlborough Helios Lisbet Thoresen identified a magical gem in the Getty (Helios in a frontal quadriga) as this stone and Jeffrey Spier another in Boston with the lion-headed Helioros figure (Bonner, Studies in Magical Amulets (Ann Arbor, 1950), pp. 19-20 and 292, no. 234, pl. 11, 2).

Gem no. 128

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195 

Sold by Fifth Avenue Art Galleries (New York)  Jan. 16, 1909, lot 149

See catalogue

221

This is the furthest from Blenheim a Marlborough gem has been traced so far. The current owner is Anne Schofield, in Sydney, Australia (http://www.anneschofieldantiques.com).

Image of gem no. 221

The gem was auctioned by Christie's 29th October 2003, lot 306 (£3,760)

231 

Sold by Fifth Avenue Art Galleries (New York)  Jan. 16, 1909, lot 145

See catalogue

272

The following gems have been identified in a private collection in Texas:

125, 272, 418, 454, 469, 495, 631 and 684

328

Private Collection, New York.

Image of gem no 328

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349

Additional photos.

Image of gem no. 349Image of gem no. 349

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357

See entry 94

362

See entry 94

371

See entry 94

372

This is the Italian Renaissance bronze plaquette of the cameo sold by Spink, London, 24 January 2008, lot 8 (£950). It is coming up for auction again: Morton & Eden, London, 9 December 2009, lot 2.

Image of gem no. 372

387

The photo of the electrotype is that of 85.

The cameo was possibly sold in the Rosenheim sale (Sotheby, 9th of May, 1923: lot 174). The cataloguer claims that the cameo is carved on crystal, with a portrait of Coligny, misidentified as Henry IV. The only Marlborough portrait of Hernry IV is this sapphire. The sale included another Marlborough cameo (573) with a less controversial attribution.

391

The former owner of the cameo, Tom Swope, has made us aware that it was indeed the original cameo (not a copy) mounted by Bulgari. He bought it at an antiques fair in Florida before arranging the BM purchase.

405

This gem is now in a private collection in London

405

418

The following gems have been identified in a private collection in Texas:

125, 272, 418, 454, 469, 495, 631 and 684

454

The following gems have been identified in a private collection in Texas:

125, 272, 418, 454, 469, 495, 631 and 684

461.38

Current owner: Tom Swope, Hudson, New York. See Tom Swope's blog.

Image of gem no. 461.38

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469

The following gems have been identified in a private collection in Texas:

125, 272, 418, 454, 469, 495, 631 and 684

474  

Sotheby's, London, 4 July 1996 (European Sculpture and Works of Art from the collection formed by the British Rail Pension Fund) lot 63.

495

The following gems have been identified in a private collection in Texas:

125, 272, 418, 454, 469, 495, 631 and 684

498

Natter's design of the cameo appears on a small Wedgwood pot shown on the Antiques Roadshow (broadcast: BBC 1, 7.02.10, 19:00)

Wedgwood pot

510

See entry 94

512

See entry 94

528

Bonhams, 28 Oct 2009, lot 323 (£31,200)

The oval stone is carved from layered agate, with two distinctive layers of cream above translucent brown, which Story-Maskelyne had wrongly thought to be 'glass imitating onyx'.

The brooch had belonged to the great-grandmother of the current owner. Jane Davies (1877-1972) lived in London from around 1900 until she was 91. She then came back to Pembrokeshire where she lived until her death in 1972 at the age of 95. The brooch was passed along the female line. Sara Crisp managed to identify the brooch as one of the missing Marlborough gems when she searched for 'cameo dog' on Google images and recognized the Beazley Archive picture of the electrotype.

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The cameo is now for sale by the Gallery David Ghezelbash [12 rue Jacob
75006 Paris, France];  David Ghezelbash  Archéologie (2010) no. 20

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Gem
  • Althorpe leopard (530)

530

The Althorp leopard cameo, copied for the Duke of Marlborough, was sold by S.J. Phillips and illustrated on the cover of Further Wellington Gems and Historic Rings. Published on the Occasion of an Exhibition June 14-July 28 1978 (no.16).

536

This drawing of the gem in the British Museum was sold at Sotheby's NY, Wednesday 28 April 2010 (lot 41). It shows the cameo in its original frame (now lost), which reconstructed missing parts of the cameo and added drapery to the inner parts of the busts in gold.

536

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542

See entry 94

573

Sold in the Rosenheim sale (Sotheby, 9th of May, 1923: lot 175), where it is identified as Empress Sabina. The sale included another Marlborough cameo (387)

574 

Sold by Fifth Avenue Art Galleries (New York)  Jan. 16, 1909, lot 143

See catalogue

576 

Sold by Fifth Avenue Art Galleries (New York)  Jan. 16, 1909, lot 144

See catalogue

608 

Sold by Fifth Avenue Art Galleries (New York)  Jan. 16, 1909, lot 147

See catalogue

631

The following gems have been identified in a private collection in Texas:

125, 272, 418, 454, 469, 495, 631 and 684

684

The following gems have been identified in a private collection in Texas:

125, 272, 418, 454, 469, 495, 631 and 684

708

Side view with mount

Side view with mount - number 708

727 

Sold by Fifth Avenue Art Galleries (New York)  Jan. 16, 1909, lot 146

See catalogue

750

Previous collections: Seymour de Ricci, catalogue of a collection of ancient rings formed by the late E.Guilhou, Paris, 1912, no.410, plate VII; now private collection (London).

Image no. 750

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760

Has been found by Ittai Gradel, Copenhagen, who kindly provided the picture. It has been taken from the original mount described by Story-Maskelyn (‘prettily set’) by a previous owner and was probably broken in the process.

Image of gem 760

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766

The original intaglio, now back in Blenheim Palace.

gem no 766

778 

Sold by Fifth Avenue Art Galleries (New York)  Jan. 16, 1909, lot 148

See catalogue

780

The intaglio was auctioned by Christie's, London, 20th May 2003, lot 32 together with a similar ring (£1,763)


Index of Collections

Geneva, Musée d'art et d'histoire 10