Oval gem with bust of a youth
early 20th century?
Length: 16.51 x 14.48 mm (5/8 x 9/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
Orange carnelian with red horizontal bands. Intaglio. Slightly convex front surface and flat back surface. The head of a youth faces left in profile. His hair is styled in short, curled locks which fall to the middle of his brow and around his ear. His features are precisely articulated and the carving is deep and detailed. This depiction strongly reflects Polykleitos’ Doryphoros, or Spear-bearer, a famous Classical Greek sculpture made around 440 B.C.
There is a Greek inscription, not carved in reverse, which runs around the perimeter of the gem from left to right, starting by the nose and ending at the nape of the neck. It reads ZMARAGDOU, “of zmaragdos.” A translation of “zmaragdos,” a variation of “smaragdos,” is “emerald” and may be the name of the gem’s owner. The inscription may have been added at a later date, as it is unusual for the inscription not to be retrograde and as the carving and spacing of the letters appear cruder than the rendering of the head.
By 1862: Dr. L. Lahut Uzman Collection (according to his records: Bought from Hecht. Aug. '24 '62. Origin: Petro in Istanbul.); 1962: inherited by Mrs. L. Lahut Uzman; December 12, 1962: one of the group of 20 gems (62.1145–62.1164) purchased by MFA from Mrs. L. Lahut Uzman for a total price of $ 2,200-
Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour