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Extraordinary Large Translucent Banded Agate Intaglio of Theseus Slaying the Minotaur

(Catullus, 64. Also Ovid, Metamorphoses, VIII, 152–82. Also Appolodorus, Epitome, E:I, 7–9) The hero uses his club to inflict the final, fatal strike on the beast, represented with one knee on the ground in agony; the figure is pinned down by Theseus’ right leg and arm, while his left wields the weapon. Signed in Greek beneath the groundline, ΠΙXΛΕΡ ΕΠΟΙ (abbreviated, “Pichler made me”).

Antonio Pichler (1697–1779), the founder of a dynasty of virtuosi gem-carvers working in Italy throughout the late 18th and 19th Centuries. The human femur on the groundline recall work on some of the gems in the collections of Prince Stanislas Poniatowski, for whom various members of the Pichler family worked.

18th Century

Height: 24 mm. (0 15/16 in.)

Width: 34 mm (1 3/8 in.)

4 mm. (0 3/16 in.)


ex: private United Kingdom collection, 1970s; thence by descent

Published: Antiquarium; Ancient Treasures XX. (London, 2022) p.49

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