Gorny & Mosch, D-Munich

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15-06-2016 – 01-01-1970

Auction 239: Ancient Art – cut stones

Cut stones from princely possession

Anyone who reduces numismatics to coins and currency misses the fact that for centuries coins and medals have been collected alongside gems and cameos – not just because many die cutters were also producing gems. 

200 taler was the price Grand Duke Charles August of Saxe-Weimar paid for the famous Lippertsche Daktylothek, as he wrote to his (collector) friend Johann Wolfgang von Goethe on September 16, 1825. It is important to remember that for centuries, gems and cameos constituted an integral part of every numismatic collection. A costly part since originals were hard to come by and therefore expensive. That was why even such a potent collector as the patron of the Weimar Classicism had to resort to a dactyliotheca, thus a collection of plaster casts.

Present day collectors no longer have to. Who intends to enrich his coin collection by a cameo or a gem should browse Auction 239 of Gorny & Mosch carefully. He will find masterpieces, most of which stem from the time of Classicism. 

Lot 493: Italy, about 1860. Golden necklace with 26 intaglios of which all except five are ancient. Intact. Estimate: 17,000 euros.

The highlight constitutes a golden necklace, with 26 intaglios, that was made by the circle of Alessandro Castellani in Italy around 1860. It mainly consists of ancient pieces, supplemented by some modern ones, all of which were individually mounted and combined to form a tight necklace (estimate: 17,000 euros). Around 1780 an armlet was made which combines seven intaglios dating from the 16th and 17th century (estimate: 9,000 euros).
Whether rings, tie-pins and brooches – for many centuries, ancient models were adopted for modern jewelry. As part of Auction 239, wonderfully worked testimonies of the Classicistic admiration of antiquity are waiting to be discovered. To name only one example: a cameo, mounted in modern times, featuring the portrait of Lady Hamilton, made by a member of the Naples-based Pichler dynasty of gem cutters. By the way, Lady Hamilton was the mistress of British Admiral Lord Nelson and famous for posing as living image in privately-held sessions (estimate: 6,200 euros).

Lot 534: Large lateral oval intaglio, cornelian, mounted in a modern golden frame showing a scene between Diana and a nymph, early 19th century. Beazley Archive T1158. Intact. Estimate: 1.800 euros.

A work of the very dynasty is imitated by a cornelian intaglio which shows Artemisia who mourns for her husband Mausolos (estimate: 3,000 euros).
Many of the pieces on offer were mounted by the Berlin-based gold smith Jens Schleede (*1935), and stem from an auction conducted by Sotheby’s in 1992 during which a collection was auctioned off that had been assembled by a Russian prince prior to 1840.
Another piece – a cornelian gem with a depiction of Diana and a nymph (estimate: 1,800 euros) – once formed part of the collection of Polish Prince Stanislas Poniatowski, a nephew of the famous Poniatowski whom his mistress, the Russian Tsarina, had made King of Poland. His descendant had published a lavishly illustrated catalog of his collection which was auctioned off by Christie’s in 1839.

Lot 313: Magical gemstone, Roman, 2nd-3rd century A.D. Cf. S. Michel, Bunte Steine – Dunkle Bilder: Magische Gemmen (2001) No. 40-42.Traces of sinter, intact. Estimate: 5,000 euros.

But of course Auction 239 includes numerous ancient gems as well, for example a magical gem made of the bloodstone hematite featuring a jackal-headed deity (estimate: 5,000 euros), or a gem made of red jasper featuring a combination of two masks, one of a silenus and the other of Pan (estimate: 500 euros).

Please find more highlights in the following:

Lot 494: Golden armlet with rosettes made in dark blue and white enamel and 7 gemstones. France or Switerland, around 1780. One of the rosettes is broken, otherwise intact. Estimate: 9,000,- euros.

Golden armlet with seven intaglios from the 16th or the early 17th century. France or Switzerland, around 1780. With connection elements made of dark-blue and white enamel decorated with rosettes. On the clasp monogram IB (owner?). All stones have a similar size, convex and high oval on the reverse (estimate: 9,000,- euros).

Lot 506: High oval cameo, made of agate, mounted in a modern gold frame by Jens Schleede (Berlin). Italy, early 19th century. Cf. D. Berges, Höchste Schönheit und einfache Grazie (2011) 246 Cat.No.153. Intact. Estimate: 6,200,- euros.

Brooch with cameo, depicting the portrait of Lady Hamilton. Italy, early 19th century. High oval agate with the portrait of Lady Hamilton in profile to the right. Below the signature PICHLER in Greek. Intact. Ex Auction Sotheby’s, European Sculpture and Works of Art, London, 10.12.1992, No. 320. From princely Russian collection before 1840 (estimate: 6,200,- euros).

The catalog can be viewed online here.

Gorny & Mosch would also be happy to provide you with a printed catalog. Please request your copy at Gorny & Mosch, Giessener Münzhandlung, Maximiliansplatz 20, D-80333 Munich, phone +49 / (0)89 / 24 22 643-0, telefax +49 / (0)89 / 22 85 513.