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King Antique Gems and Rings I 8

King Antique Gems and Rings I 8

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Published by: Farlang on Sep 15, 2009
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11/27/2012

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412
 ANTIQUE GEMS AND RINGS.
MODERN GEM-ENGRAVERS.
THE
earliest notice of the existence of the Glyptic art in Italy (andthat even before the first dawn of the Eevival) is to be found inScipione Ammirati's Florentine History (xiv. p. 741), where he recordsthat a certain Peruzzi of Florence, " singolare intagliatore di pietre,"counterfeited the seal of Carlo di Durazzo, in 1379. But this is allthat is known of him, neither are any other names quoted of personsdistinguished in the art for the whole of the century following, untilCamillo di Leonardo, in his ' Speculum Lapidum,' written in 1502,gives a brief but valuable notice of the earliest artists of the ItalianEevival, and who, from the date of his treatise, must necessarily bereckoned in the Quattro-cento period.Nevertheless, although so short a space had elapsed since the restoration of the art, Camillo speaks of their works as " diffused all over Italy,and not to be distinguished from the antique "—affirming that thefollowing engravers, his own contemporaries, were equal in merit toany of ancient times. At Borne, Giovanni Maria da Mantova; atYenice, Francesco Nichini da Ferrara; at Genoa, Jacopo Tagliacarne;at Milan, Leonardo da Milano—" Who sink figures in gems with such
 
THE 
QUATTRO-CENTO SCHOOL.
413
accuracy and neatness, that nothing can be added to or taken awaytherefrom." He adds that an art then flourished altogether unknownto the ancients, that o
niellatura,
in which he praises as the mostdistinguished worker, Giovanni, surnamed Frazza, of Bologna.Vasari has not condescended to notice any of these four celebritiesof the age preceding his own, either because their works were by thefastidious taste of the times contemned as rude and barbarous firstattempts; or, probably, because the authors of them were not
Tuscans,
but mere Lombards and Genoese. His ' History of the Painters'gives, however, copious details respecting the chief contemporaryengravers down to the year 1567, and the following notices are in greatmeasure condensed exclusively from his accounts, in the total absenceof other materials.
Giovanni,
styled
delle Carniole,
"of the carnelians," from his practiceof engraving in that stone, is the first artist in this line whose name isrecorded by Vasari. He was a young Florentine, who learnt the art *from " masters of different countries" summoned to Florence byLorenzo, and his son, Piero dei Medici, to
repair 
or
restore
(rassettare)the ancient gems they had collected. Hence he must have gained hisreputation before 1492, the date of Lorenzo's death. Giovanni got histitle, says Vasari, " because he engraved carnelians most excellently, towhich fact an
infinite
number bear testimony, that are to- be seen fromhis hand, both large and small." His masterpiece, " which was a mostextraordinary intaglio," the head of 
Fra Savonarola,
is still in thecabinet of the UfSzi, Florence. It is very deeply cut in a largecarnelian, two inches in diameter : around runs the legend
HIEEONYMVS
FERRARIENSIS
OKD.
PEAED. PEOPHETA.
VIE. ET.
MARTYR. Eiccio (writing
in 1597) mentions that the Grand Duke Francesco I. used to show itas one of the greatest rarities in his treasury of art. The MarcheseCapponi had an exact replica of this, now in the museum of the CollegioRomano. The Marmi family again were in possession of the same
* "
Imparb
da
quosti (maestri
di
diversi paesi)
per
mezzo
del
Magnifico Lorenzoqnesta virtu
di
intaglio
in
cavo
un
giovane Fiorentino chiamato Giovanni delle corniole.
('
"Vita
di
Valerio Vicentino.')
 
414
 ANTIQUE GEMS AND RINGS.
head, but in cameo, on a calcedony-agate, somewhat larger than thefamous intaglio, set in a silver frame with chain, which was offered forsale to Gori, but at too exorbitant a price (' Hist. Glypt.'). ' There canbe little -doubt that this was the very cameo in the (late) UzielliCollection, most of the camei it contained having been only recentlyobtained in different Italian cities. It was a head covered with a cowl;in flat
relief,
upon an agate-onyx, in white on a transparent ground.The work had every appearance of belonging to his times. The newlyestablished art was naturally employed in multiplying portraits of themonkish demagogue, who for four years (1494 to 1498) domineered overFlorence. In the (late) Mertens Schaaffhausen Collection, B. 180, wasa carnelian, " Bust of a monk, on the right the letter I, on the left S,Gothic form; fine work of the time of the Medici." . Supposed by themaker of the catalogue to be a head of Savonarola; but more probablythat of some German clerical celebrity, for the
larbarian
Gothic letterhad gone out of use at Florence long before Savonarola's age; and whatis more, the I cannot stand for the' initial of 
Hieronymus,*
but of someJohannes or Josephus.
 Domenico Compagni,
surnamed
dei Camei,
flourishing about thesame time at Milan, was made famous by engraving the head of the lastduke, Lodovico il Moro, in intaglio ("
in
cavo
"),
on a balais ruby, thesize of a giulio, (our shilling); " which," remarks Yasari, " was anextraordinary thing, and one of the best intagli ever seen from amodern artist." The circumstance that Domenico obtained his appellation from his special excellence in works in
cameo,
adds to the probability that the ruby in her Majesty's collection, with the head oLouis XII., the conqueror of Milan,
in
relief,
comes from his hand.In the French collection are also two camei which Chabouillet ascribesto this engraver; viz., No. 322, a bust in profile in the costume oLouis XII.'s age, which formerly passed for that of Lodovico il Moro
himself,
but now, on the authority of other portraits, is supposed torepresent Louis, Marquis de Saluces; and No. 323, which formerly was
* Or even its Italian form, that being
Girolamo.

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