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Home > Auctions > 4th June 2024 > Medieval Silver Seal Matrix for John the Evangelist with Roman Eagle Gemstone

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LOT 0349

GBP (£) 3,000 - 4,000
EUR (€) 3,520 - 4,700
USD ($) 3,820 - 5,100

Current bid: £2,500 (+bp*)
(1 Bid, Reserve not met)

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(1 Bid, Reserve not met)   |   Current bid: £2,500
3/4 in. (3.74 grams, 21 mm).

The outer band with incuse legend '+ AQUILA IOhANNIS' (Eagle of [Saint] John]), suspension loop above with a leaf terminal to the reverse; set with a 2nd century A.D. Roman carnelian intaglio with a military eagle standing with spread wings, a laurel crown held in its beak, the claws gripping the base, two military standards at its sides; both shafts decorated with alternating phalerae, and lunulae.

From the Smith family collection, formed in the late 1940s-1980s.

Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Raffaele D’Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by a search certificate number no. 12045-217155.

Cf. for gemstones with an aquila also associated with images of Jupiter and Serapis, Walters, H.B., Catalogue of Engraved Gems & Cameos, Greek, Etruscan & Roman in the British Museum, London, 1926, no.1273; Sena Chiesa, G., Gemme del Museo Nazionale di Aquileia (Associazione Nazionale per Aquileia), Padova, 1966, nos.39-40; Zwierlein-Diehl, E., Die antiken Gemmen des Kunsthistorischen Museums in Wien, vol. 2, Munich, 1979, no.1247; Philipp, H., Mira et Magica: Gemmen im Äegyptischen Museum der Staatlichen Museen PreuBischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin-Charlottenburg, Mainz, 1986, nos.57-58; D’Amato, R., Roman Standards & Standard-Bearers (1), 112BC-AD192, Oxford, 2018, p.27.

Often the military intaglio gemstones of the ancient Rome were carved with an eagle between two standards. These intaglios could have been inserted in rings that belonged to an officer with the rank of Aquilifer (bearer of the legionary eagle). From the 4th century A.D., the vision of Ezekiel and John's Apocalypse, assigned the lion, the angel, the eagle, and the ox a place in the iconography of the Tetramorph to represent the four evangelists.