A Roman Intaglio of an Equestrian Warrior, ca 1st century CE
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This beautiful intaglio is carved in a piece of bright blue and green striped mosaic glass, formed by laminating individual pieces in separate colors under great heat which causes them to fuse together. On its surface, a horse and mounted warrior have been carved in great detail; the bearded warrior is fully armed - wearing a large crested helmet, breastplate, a great shield on his back, he holds the reigns of his horse in his left hand. This superb intaglio was set as a ring in 1989 and is itself a striking example of wearable art. Cast in rich 22K gold, the oval bezel joins a separately made hoop inlaid with braided wire filigree of platinum and gold, of a style typical of Roman rings during the late Byzantine period. The interior of the shank is inscribed: c1989 Ariadne 22KT, Tim Koheki 1-29.
Mosaic glass objects were manufactured using a laborious and time-consuming technique. Multicolored canes of mosaic glass were created, then stretched to shrink the patterns and either cut across into small, circular pieces or lengthwise into strips. These were placed together to form a flat circle, heated until they fused, and the resulting disk was then sagged over or into a mold to give the object its shape. Almost all cast objects required polishing on their edges and interiors to smooth the imperfections caused by the manufacturing process; the exteriors usually did not require further polishing because the heat of the annealing furnace would create a shiny, "fire-polished" surface.
For related examples of such intaglios see: Marshall, FH ; Catalogue of the Finger Rings Greek, Etruscan & Roman in the Department of Antiquities, British Museum (London, 1907) pl.12, no.396 and Spier, Jeffrey "Ancient Gems and Finger Rings, Catalogue of the Collections, The J. Paul Getty Museum" (California, 1992) p. 145-152.
Condition: Intact and in excellent condition overall. A very fine and rare example.
Dimensions: US ring size 5 1/2 (UK=L, DE=16, CH=11 3/4)
Provenance: Acquired Ariadne Gallery, New York after 1989, thereafter in a private FL collection.
All photos copyright Kornbluth Photography, Maryland