Oval gem with an erotic scene

Intaglio. Pierced for stringing (horizontal). Motif oriented horizontally. A woman, seated on a cushioned bed, has intercourse with a male partner. Her face and legs are seen in profile, while her torso is twisted toward the viewer in a viewpoint somewhere between three-quarters and frontal. The woman wears a beaded necklace, a bracelet on her right arm, earrings, and thin slippers. Her hair is bound up in a scarf, with a few locks of hair escaping at her forehead and crown. She has a long nose, and heavy chin. Though seated on a bed, she holds her torso off of the bed with her arms; she may be rested her left elbow on one of the two pillows/cushions visible at the left edge of the bed. Her partner stands before the bed, and grabs her raised legs at the knees. He is bearded, and has short hair rendered by short striations. Like the woman, his face is rendered in profile, while his body is seen in three-quarter view from the back. Only one leg of the bed is visible at the left, the artist having omitted the back left leg; the right leg(s) is missing due to a large chip. Both figures have their gaze pointed down. Significant chip around right perforation.

Provenance

By date unknown: with W. T. Ready (according to J. D. Beazley, The Lewes House Collection of Ancient Gems, no. 60, Ready wrote: "The stone was bought at Damanhour, and the man from whom it was bought said that it was found at the same place a few days before my client's visit there. ."); date unknown: sold by W. T. Ready to Edward Perry Warren; November 21, 1923: gift of Edward Perry Warren to MFA

Credit Line

Gift of Edward Perry Warren

Oval gem with an erotic scene

  • Greek, Late Classical Period, late 5th–early 4th century B.C.
Dimensions
Length: 29.85 mm, 1.1 x 2.4 cm (1 3/16 x 7/16 x 15/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Chalcedony
Classification
Jewelry / Adornment
Catalogue Raisonné
Lewes House Gems, no. 060 (1920; 2002, additional published references).
Accession Number
23.597
Not on view

Tags