Description 18th-century gem carvers sometimes depicted ancient subjects to appeal to gem collectors with antiquarian tastes. This intaglio portrays Asclepius, Greek god of medicine and healing, in profile. Asclepius’s attribute, a serpent entwined around a rod, appears at left. The symbol, which continues to be used in medicine today, has generated different interpretations, but it could be read as a symbol of renewal, as snakes shed their skins. This gem was part of the duke of Marlborough’s famous collection in England.
Examined in preparation for exhibition.
An impression was made of the intaglio for purposes of exhibition. The object was cleaned afterward.
- Jewelry - Ancient to Modern. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979-1980.
- Madame de Pompadour, Patron and Printmaker. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2016.
Provenance George Spencer, fourth Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, by 1817, [mode of acquisition unknown] [Marlborough no. 251]; 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. 38, lot 251; 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. 43, lot 251; 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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