The J. Paul Getty Museum

Engraved Gem with Apollo

Object Details


Engraved Gem with Apollo


Attributed to Solon (active 70 - 20 B.C.)


Roman, Modern


30–20 B.C.


Amethyst in a modern gold mount

Object Number:



3.3 × 3 cm (1 5/16 × 1 3/16 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

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Object Description

With his wavy hair cascading over a headband, the face of Apollo--the god of youth, music, and prophecy--is carved into the surface of this large amethyst. His portrait is presented in full profile. Apollo's features are idealized, as was typical in art of the early Roman Empire: a square face with broad cheeks, a round chin, and a remarkably straight nose.

This gem closely resembles other images of Apollo, but the artist might also have sought to evoke Augustus. Solon carved other images of Augustus and members of the Imperial family in the guise of deities, and this gem may provide a further example.  Augustus's patron god was Apollo, and he believed the god secured victory for his forces in the Battle of Actium in 31 B.C:

The gold mount was added to the gem, probably during the late nineteenth century. Formerly in the collection of the Comtesse de Béarn (1870-1930), the gem was displayed at an exhibition in London in 1903-04.

by 1903 - 1939

Martine-Marie-Pol de Béhague, comtesse de Béarn, French, 1870 - 1939 (Paris, France), by inheritance to her nephew, Octave Marie Hubert, 1939.

1939 - 1974

Marquis Octave Marie Hubert de Ganay, French, French, 1888 - 1974 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his son, Jean-Louis Hubert, 1974.

1974 - 1987

Marquis Jean-Louis Hubert de Ganay, French, 1922 - 2013 [sold, Antiquites et Objets d'Art: Collection de Martine, Comptesse de Behague, provenant de la Succession du Marquis de Ganay, Sotheby's, Monaco, December 5, 1987.]

- 1990

Jean-Luc Chalmin (Pfaffhausen, Switzerland), by gift to Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, 1990.

1990 - 1996

Barbara Fleischman and Lawrence Fleischman, American, 1925 - 1997 (New York, New York), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1996.

Burlington Fine Arts Club Exhibition of Ancient Greek Art (June to July 1903)
  • Burlington Fine Arts Club (London), June to July 1903
Classical Connections: The Enduring Influence of Greek and Roman Art (December 16, 2003 to November 9, 2008)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 16, 2003 to November 9, 2008
Carvers and Collectors: The Lasting Allure of Ancient Gems (March 19 to September 7, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), March 19 to September 7, 2009

Burlington Fine Arts Club, London. Exhibition of Ancient Greek Art. (Section on gems by C. Newton Robinson.) 1904, p. 247, case O, no. 62, Comtesse de Bearn coll.

Fröhner, Wilhelm. La collection de la comtesse R. de Béarn: Quatrieme Cahier. 4 vols. (Paris [Strasbourg]: impr. Fischbach, 1905-1912), vol. 4 (1912), p. 85, pl. XXI, 8, ill.

Spier, Jeffrey. "Two Hellenistic Gems Rediscovered." Antike Kunst 34, 2 (1991), pp. 91-96, pl. 10, 6-7.

True, Marion, and Kenneth Hamma, eds. A Passion For Antiquities. Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat. (Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1994), p. 356, cat. no. 271.

"Museum Acquisitions Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 1998." The Report of the J. Paul Getty Trust (1997-98), p. 69.

Lapatin, Kenneth. Luxus: The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), pp. 109, 138, 247, pl. 97.