Engraved Gem Inset Into a Ring

Object Details

Title:

Engraved Gem Inset Into a Ring

Artist/Maker:

Signed by Apelles (Greek, active about 100 - 1 B.C.)

Culture:

Roman

Place:

Rome, Lazio, Italy (Place created)

Date:

25 - 1 B.C.

Medium:

Gold; carnelian

Dimensions:

1.9 × 1.5 cm (3/4 × 9/16 in.)

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A portrait of the Greek orator Demosthenes decorates the carved gem of this large gold ring. Demosthenes, the most famous of Athenian orators, was known for speaking out against the growing power of the kingdom of Macedonia. When Athens fell to the Macedonians in 323 B.C., he fled and committed suicide rather than face execution. Depictions of orators on Roman gems are quite rare, but in the early Roman Empire portraits of Demosthenes in all media became popular. The intaglio portrait on this ring shows the orator as an older, bearded man with a high furrowed forehead and a receding chin. This portrait, as with the other Roman examples, appears to derive from a famous bronze statue of Demothenes by the sculptor Polyeuktes, which was set up in the Athenian Agora in 280 B.C.

The gem engraver Apelles signed his name on the face of the gem.

Provenance
by 1987 - 1990

Ariadne Galleries, Inc. (New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1990.

Exhibitions
Birth of Athenian Democracy (June 15, 1993 to January 2, 1994)
  • National Archives and Records Administration (Washington D.C.), June 15, 1993 to January 2, 1994
Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004
Bibliography

"Acquisitions/1990." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 19 (1991) p. 140, no. 24.

Spier, Jeffrey. Ancient Gems and Finger Rings: Catalogue of the Collections. Malibu: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 1992. no. 220.

Ober, J. and C.W. Hedrick, eds. The Birth of Democracy. An Exhibition Celebrating the 2500th Anniversary of Democracy at the National Archives, Washington, D.C., June 15, 1993-January 2, 1994. American School of Classical Studies, et al., 1993. p. 89, no. 12.4.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997) p. 57.

Towne Markus, Elana. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Antiquities. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997)

Bodel, John, and Stephen Tracy. Greek and Latin Inscriptions in the USA: A Checklist. New York: American Academy in Rome, 1997. p. 12.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001) p. 57.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002) p. 212.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007) p. 43, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010) p. 201.

Lang, Jörn. Mit Wissen geschmückt? Zur bildlichen Rezeption griechischer Dichter und Denker in der römischen Lebenswelt, Monumenta Artis Romanae 39 (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 2012) pp. 43, 150, no. G De3, pl. 1.

Lapatin, Kenneth. Luxus: The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015) pp. 114, 138, 248, pl. 99.