Lot 88
  • 88

Roman, 1st century B.C.

8,000 - 12,000 GBP
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  • Intaglio with a Standing Youth conversing with a Seated Maiden
  • yellow sard, set within an early 17th-century enamelled gold pendant mount, in a gold embossed leather bound case lined with black silk and velvet and gold thread and a metal mount
  • Roman, 1st century B.C.


Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694-1774), Paris (according to Story-Maskelyne, no. 340);
Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough (1706-1758) or George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough (1739-1817), Blenheim Palace Oxfordshire; 
thence by family descent to John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough (1822-1883), Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire;
David Bromilow, Bitteswell Hall, Lutterworth, until 1898;
by descent to Julia Harriet Mary Jary (née Bromilow);
Christie, Manson and Woods London, Catalogue of the Marlborough Gems: Being a Collection of Works in Cameo and Intaglio Formed by George, 3rd Duke of Marlborough, 27 June 1899, lot 340;
Friedrich von Gans, Frankfurt am Main;
Kurt Walter Bachstitz, The Hague, by 1920;
Dr. Hans Posse, Berlin (acquired from the above on behalf of Adolf Hitler for 6,000 NLG in the summer of 1941);
Adolf Hitler (transferred to the collection of the proposed Führermuseum in Linz, inv. no. 3877);
recovered in Altaussee, Austria by the so-called Monuments Men and transferred to the Central Collecting Point Munich on the 2nd July 1945 (inv. no. Mü 2255/12);
transferred to the Central Collecting Point Wiesbaden on the 29th July 1949;
transferred from the above to the Netherlands Art Property Collection, Holland (inv. no. NK 2904) on 2nd July 1951;
on loan from the above to the Geldmuseum, Utrecht and subsequently to the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden;
Restituted to the heirs of Kurt Walter Bachstitz in 2016


A. C. P. de Caylus, Recueil D'Antiquités, Egyptiennes, Etrusques, Grecques Et Romaines I, Paris, 1764, 129;
P. J. Mariette, Traite des Pierres Gravees, vol I, Paris, 1750; 
P. D. Lippert, Dactyliothecae Universalis iii, Leipzig 1776, no. 166;
J. Tassie and R. E. Raspe, A Descriptive Catalogue of a General Collection of Ancient and Modern Engraved Gems, Cameos and Intaglios, Taken from the Most Celebrated Cabinets in Europe; and Cast in Coloured Pastes, White Enamel, and Sulphur, London, 1791, no. 6544;
M. H. Nevil Story-Maskelyne, The Marlborough Gems, Oxford, 1870, no. 340;
G. Lippold, Gemmen und Kameen des Alterturms und der Neuzeit, Stuttgart, 1922, pl. 24.8;
M. L. Vollenweider, Die Steinschneidekunst und ihre Kunstler, Baden Baden, 1963, 41, n.23, pl. 34.1-2;
M. Maaskant-Kleibrink, Catalogue of the Engraved gems in the Royal Coin Cabinet, The Hague. 1978, no. 1166, pl. 184;
E. Simon, Augustus, Munich, 1986, no. 163, fig. 213;
G. Platz-Horster, Berlin Winckelmannsprogramm, 1922, 29, 31, fig. 33
J. Boardman, D. Scarisbrick, C. Wagner and E. Zwierlein-Diehl, The Marlborough Gems formerly at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, Oxford, 2009, p. 273, no. 650


Considering the age of the intaglio, it is in good condition, with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. According to Story Maskelyne (1870), the gem has been repolished, though there appears to be little evidence of this. There are some very minor surface scratches. There are some natural striations in the stone, which emanate from a point at the man's sternum. There is a series of very minor naturally occurring inclusions and corresponding striations in the stone, to the right of the man's proper left calf, including a slightly larger triangular shaped one. There is a slight depression in the stone in the rockwork at the lower left edge; this appears to be original and the mount appears to have been shaped accordingly. The mount appears to be early 17th century, there are various nicks and scratches to the surface and various losses to the green and black enamelling. There is wear to the leather case consistent with age.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

This exquisite intaglio was attributed by Vollenweider in 1963 as by Aulos, who signed an amethyst intaglio in the British Museum (inv. no. 1913,0307.178). Story Maskelyne identified the present jewel as representing Paris and Oenone, though throughout its long and distinguished history the subject has been given multiple descriptions, also including: 'Phaon and Sappho'; 'Muse and comic poet'; 'Adonis and Aphrodite'; and 'Venus and Anchises' (see Boardman, op. cit., for summary). Boardman suggests that the male could represent Apollo and posits that the tablet may provide the identity for the female. He notes that the scene resembles other 'hero and heroine' compositions from the 1st century and that the subject is seen in a gem illustrated by Reinach (pl. 81.97).

Regardless of the elusive subject identification, this is one of the most beautifully executed intaglios to have been offered at auction in many years. The quality is superlative.