Ancient Ptolemaic Sardonyx Cameo of Apollo
This is an exceptional ancient Ptolemaic hardstone cameo of Apollo, dating to the 3rd - 1st century B.C. The artistic quality of the cameo fits with the Imperial Workshops of Alexandria, further examples being housed in the greatest collections of the world. See here, here and here, with a list of further examples here. The cameo is sculpted in three layers with the portrait of a prince of the Ptolemaic dynasty, in the guise of Apollo. He is depicted with a youthful appearance, his golden hair symbolic of his virtues god of the Sun and of light. Apollo was also the god of music, poetry, prophecy and healing. As such apt subject for a cameo, especially one as fine as this that would have originally been set into a gold pendant.
Being such an ancient gem, this piece has a very fine internal crazing (this is not a crack or nor does it go through the stone) Such crazing happens to gems that have spent time in the ground or those of great age. The surfaces of the gem also have a bloom/patina, so is certainly not a later 19th-century copy.
If you are after an exceptional piece of early art, cameos of this quality seldom appear on the market.
DATE: c. 1st - 2nd century A.D.
SIZE: 36mm x 29mm x 5mm
WEIGHT: 8.2 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. Private Collection, Somerset.