Classical Revival Intaglio of an Abduction

SKU FJ.6542

18 th Century AD


1.75″ (4.4cm) high





Gallery Location



The art of glyptics, or carving on colored precious stones, is probably one of the oldest known to humanity. Intaglios, gems with an incised design, were made as early as the fourth and third millennia B.C. in Mesopotamia and the Aegean Islands. They exhibit a virtuosity of execution that suggests an old and stable tradition rooted in the earliest centuries. The tools required for carving gems were simple: a wheel with a belt-drive and a set of drills. A special difficulty of engraving intaglios, aside from their miniature size, was that the master had to work with a mirror-image in mind.

The Classical Revival was a phenomenon that swept through Europe in the 18th and 19th Centuries. A new appreciation for antiquity and ancient art forms was fostered by discoveries in the nascent scientific field of archaeology. Perhaps the Classical Revival also reveals a latent longing towards the Arcadian lifestyles of yesterday abandoned as Europe became rapidly industrialized and increasingly urbanized. Engraved upon the polished surface of this precious gemstone is a depiction of a mythological scene featuring the abduction of a young maiden. A muscular man, possibly a deity, has slung this frightened maiden over his shoulders and prepares to ride off in his chariot. Another maiden attempts in vain to rescue her friend but it’s too late. Abductions of all sorts were popular fare in Classical mythology and make it difficult to ascribe this as a representation of any one particular scene. However, this stunning intaglio depicts the intense fervor and heightened drama to perfection. Gazing at this intaglio, we ourselves are abducted back to another time and place, to a realm of Gods and fantastical creature where the myths of the past come alive.

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