NEOCLASSICAL RING SET WITH A CARNELIAN INTAGLIO OF DIONYSIUS
Likely Italy?, or perhaps England?, 18th century (intaglio); c. 1800 (mount)
Weight 5.8 gr.; bezel 21.6 x 18 mm.; circumference 49.32 mm.; US size 5; UK size J ½
The open-set carnelian intaglio with beveled edge in gold shows in deep relief the carved-out image of the bearded head of Dionysius (Bacchus to the Romans) in three-quarter profi le turned to the right. He wears a wreath of ivy leaves and a cloak along the neckline. The round hoop widens at the ends to support the oval bezel. Cameos and intaglios have never gone out of fashion. Perfected by the Greeks and Romans, the art of carving stones, either in relief or hollowed out, has been practiced for thousands of years. One of the favored themes was Dionysius, god of agriculture, grape harvest, winemaking, as well as madness and ecstasy. He is shown portrait-style as a bearded old man, crowned with his wreath of ivy considered sacred to him and sometimes mistakenly identifi ed as grape leaves.