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HOME : Intaglio Jewelry : Loose Intaglios : Classical Revival Carnelian Intaglio of a Biga
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Classical Revival Carnelian Intaglio of a Biga - FJ.6549
Origin: Europe
Circa: 18 th Century AD
Dimensions: 1" (2.5cm) high
Collection: Intaglio
Medium: Carnelian

Location: United States
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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 biga, or a chariot drawn by two horses. Gazing upon this intaglio, one can almost hear sound of the stampeding hooves of the horse crashing onto the rough ground. Chariot races were one of the most popular spectator sports during the ancient Roman Empire. However, no mere charioteer holds the reigns of this horse; instead, the driver is winged Victoria, the goddess of victory. This intaglio imitates similar ancient examples that were most likely the prized possession of champion charioteers bestowed upon them by the emperor or other wealthy, admiring fans. Moreover, the chariot in ancient times was a symbol of might and victory, be it in war or contest. May we all be so lucky as to have the course of our lives steered by Victoria as well.
- (FJ.6549)


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