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Dexamenos Intaglio

Flying Heron

5th century BC

Chalcedony, gold; 1.7 x 2.2 cm

This is one of four gems by a most remarkable Ionic engraver, Dexamenos, in the Hermitage intaglio collection. Seeming to float in infinite space, the figure of a heron is engraved on a piece of bluish chalcedony. This is indeed a true masterpiece, a remarkable specimen of an antique carved gem, unique for the perfection of its form, elegance of contour and exquisite mastery of detail. The master's name is inscribed under the heron: 'Made by Dexamenos of Chios'. The gem has a gold mount with a swivel hoop. Objects of this kind were used as ornaments or seals, and worn with belts, bracelets and necklaces.

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