Description This intaglio depicts the centaur Cheiron teaching Achilles how to play the lyre. He has a long beard and hair arranged in a thick roll around his head. A loose piece of cloth or animal skin hangs over his right shoulder. Achilles, on the left, holds a lyre as Cheiron, on the right, kneels and reaches out to him. To the right is a tree. The musical education of Achilles by Cheiron is a particularly popular theme on gems. The first literary reference to Cheiron’s instruction of Achilles in music is from Ovid (Ars Amatoria 1.11), but Achilles' lyre-playing is already mentioned in the Iliad (9.186-89).
- Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville; San Diego Museum Of Art, San Diego; Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), New York. 2009-2011.
Provenance John Stanhope, London, by 1748, [mode of acquisition unknown]; Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth Earl Chesterfield, London, 1748, by bequest; William Ponsonby, second Earl Bessborough, Parkstead House, London, by 1761, by purchase [Bessborough no. 31 C]; George Spencer, fourth Duke Marlborough, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, ca. 1765, by purchase [Marlborough no. 339]; George Spencer-Churchill, fifth Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, 1817, by bequest; George Spencer-Churchill, sixth Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, 1840, by bequest; John Spencer-Churchill, seventh Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, 1857, by bequest; Sale, The Marlborough Gems, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 28 June 1875, p. 54, lot 339; David Bromilow, Bitteswell Hall, Leicestershire, ca. 1875, by purchase; Julia Bromilow Jary, Bitteswell Hall, Leicestershire, 1898, by bequest; Sale, The Marlborough Gems Purchased by the Late David Bromilow, esq., Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 26 June 1899, p. 61, lot 339; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1899, by purchase [Dikran Kelekian as agent]; Sadie Jones (Mrs. Henry Walters), New York, 1931, by bequest; Joseph Brummer, Paris and New York, 1941, by purchase [Brummer inv. no. N5143a]; Walters Art Museum, 1942, by purchase.
Credit Museum purchase [formerly part of the Walters Collection], 1942
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