Lot 28
  • 28

A fragmentary Onyx Cameo of Athena Parthenos, circa 1st Century A.D., or later

12,000 - 18,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • A fragmentary Onyx Cameo of Athena Parthenos
  • onyx
  • Max. length 7.3 cm.; max. thickness 1.5 cm.
of slightly convex form in front and concave in back, probably from a larger composition, the goddess facing left and wearing a scaly aegis with gorgoneion, pendant earring, and helmet with couchant sphinx supporting the crest, Pegasos on the side, four prancing horses in front, and fragmentary turned-up cheek-guard, her long hair flowing down to her shoulders from beneath the broad neck-guard.


Sir John Charles Robinson (1824-1913), Newton Manor, Swanage, Dorset
Sir Francis Cook, Bt., 1st Viscount of Monserrate (1817-1901), Doughty House, Richmond, Surrey, acquired from the above
by inheritance to his youngest son Wyndham Francis Cook (d. 1905)
by inheritance to his son, Humphrey W. Cook, London (Christie, Manson & Woods, London, July 14th, 1925, no. 180, illus.)


Cecil H. Smith and C. Amy Hutton, Catalogue of the Antiquities (Greek, Etruscan and Roman) in the Collection of the Late Wyndham Francis Cook, Esquire., London, 1908, p. 70, no. 302 [785], pl. 12, as "Graeco-Roman(?) work... Apparently a fragment broken from a larger composition"
Maria João Neto, Monserrate: The Romantic Country House of an English Family, Casal de Cambra, 2016, p. 94, fig. 129

Catalogue Note

This cameo is a welcome addition to the testimonia regarding the chryselephantine cult statue of Athena Parthenos created by Phidias (see S. Kansteiner, et al., eds., Der Neue Overbeck, vol. 2, 2014, pp. 171ff., no. 10).

Compared to the red jasper intaglio signed by Aspasios in the Museo Nazionale Romano (LIMC, vol. 2, p. 1076, no. 13, pl. 786; K. Lapatin, Luxus. The Sumptuous Arts of Greece and Rome, 2015, p. 246, pl. 92), the present cameo is less informative with regard to details (e.g. the helmet decoration), but superior with regard to artistic sensitivity in rendering the image of the virgin goddess.

We are grateful to John Somerville, Keeper of the Cook Collection Archive, for his help in cataloguing this lot.