Constantine the Great and Tyche of Constantinople
Sardonyx.
Rome. 4th century.
Reworked in the 19th century by the master Benedetto Pistrucci (1784—1855).
18.5 × 12.2 cm.
Saint Petersburg, The State Hermitage MuseumInv. No. ГР-12534 (Ж 146).Photo by Sergey Sosnovskiy

Constantine the Great and Tyche of Constantinople.

Sardonyx.
Rome. 4th century.
Reworked in the 19th century by the master Benedetto Pistrucci (1784—1855).
18.5 × 12.2 cm.
Inv. No. ГР-12534 (Ж 146).

Saint Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum

Origin:
Entered in 1805 from the N. Khitrovo collection; previosly in the A. Golovkin collection.
Description:
Tra li cinquecento e più modelli fatti da Benedetto Pistrucci sia per medaglie, come per cammei, cose tutte di classica formosità, l’artista, dicesi, clic esegui più di un centocinquanta cammei, taluni de’quali hanno pari alla straordinaria fattura, una straordinaria dimensione. Tra questi splendono le seguenti:

Il trionfo d’ Arianna e Bacco — 8 figure — di forma ovale traversale — 3 pollici 98 — e 2 p. 78 — Sardonica — Museo di Vienna.

Flora — frammento — fatto dall’artista per 100 scudi: venduto per 500 sterlini — Sardonica — Museo di Londra.

Maschera Tragica (altissimo rilievo) fatto per 80 scudi — venduto per 000 sterlini a monsieur Beckford — Sardonica — opera come greca, illustrata da E. Q. Visconti — Museo di Londra.

Augusto coronato da una Provincia — di forma rotonda — 8 pollici di diametro — Sardonica — opera fatta per 200 scudi, venduta 4,000 creduta Greca anche dal Dennon — Museo di Pietroburgo.

Il Pistrucci co’suoi modelli in cera, co’gessi tratti da cammei, prima di consegnarli, e con certe marche c cifre in luoghi inosservati incise da lui nelle opere sue, rivendicò per sè medesimo, la gloria artistica di averle fatte: cosa che per ignoranza, o per malizia eragli contrastata da chi le vendeva, o comperava come greche.

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C. P.
Dal necrologio di Benedetto Pistrucci (1856)

Some celebrated engravers—Natter, for one, it is said, and others, are well known to have pushed a thriving trade in forging antiques; but we have never heard of either Giovanni Pichler, Girometti, or Pistrucci being accused of the practice. It is true that they and other clever young artists at the time were made tools of by Bonelli and other dealers in gems, who sold their works for great prices as antiques (witness the Flora of Payne Knight); he took care not to let this be known to them: but Pistrucci first suspected and then detected him. This Bonelli was a dealer in gems, and was constantly travelling round through the capitals of Italy, Russia, Germany, France, and England, returning at intervals of one or two years to Rome; selling and buying gems and stones for engraving wherever he went in his route, and of course replenishing his stock whenever he returned to Rome: by purchasing from the peasant gem-seekers and finders in the vineyards and ruins about the Forum, Appian Way, and other parts. Some of these he had retouched and improved by the artists just named; the uncut stones he got engraved with subjects in the antique style, giving to the artist the onyx, sard, or sardonyx, and with it a subject, not to be servilely copied, but imitated (as already mentioned); of course never permitting the engraver to inscribe his name,—or if he obstinately did so, it was quickly effaced,—so that none of these artists got the credit due to their skill. These works, being truly beautiful (though not really antique), were eagerly purchased by such collectors as Demidoff, Roger, Blacas, Payne Knight, Webb, &c. It may be worth while to give an account of a couple of them. The first is a real antique, which was given to Pistrucci to be improved (not by Bonelli, but by another dealer, Domenico Desalief), on a fine sardonyx as large as a man’s hand; the subject, a warrior crowned by a female figure, the crown standing out in high relief; the whole wretchedly cut, as those can vouch who have seen the cast of it taken in its original state. Fortunately, it was so clumsy that there was plenty of material to cut away to reduce it to just proportions; for instance, the legs were so short and thick that he cut away the knees, and recut them higher up in their proper place; he took two impressions, one before and the other after the alterations; from the first impression he took a cast in wax, of which he made the model of the new gem,—for there was scarcely a trace of the old one left; and by this wax he could of course see how much of the stone he could afford to cut away. After this gem was finished it found its way into the Imperial cabinet of St. Petersburg, where it is considered a capo d’opera of antiquity, and was estimated as such by many judges, amongst others by Denon, the Director of Medals in Paris. It was not possible to obtain a photograph, but the woodcut (from a pencil sketch), although imperfect, shows sufficiently the size and subject of the cameo,—a victorious general, or emperor, crowned by a Province, usually represented with a Cybele head-dress.

Archibald Billing (1867)

Curiosità artistiche
Di alcuni piacevoli aneliti avvenuti a Benedetto Pistrucci celebre incisore in cammeo e pietra dura

Singolare intanto fu l’ingegno e la fortuna di questo artista. Mentre dimorava ancora in Italia, e faceva cammei stupendi per isquisitezza di gusto e di valore antico, i mercanti che li compravano a poco prezzo rispetto al merito dell’opera, li rivendevano come opere di maestri già morti
e celebrati quando erano intagliati su pietra di Germania, o come cose di greco artefice quando erano incisi sopra più rara pietra orientale. Onde avvenne talvolta che di possessore in possessore mostrati in ultimo al Pistrucci medesimo, come tesoro acquistato a gran denaro, compiacendosi dello scherzo di che la fortuna gli faceva presente, egli si beffava del lavoro e del maestro che l’avea fatto, (Dio sa con quanto dolore dei nuovi acquirenti), ai quali alla fine palesando l’inganno, sorridendo mostrava ben spesso il suo nome o la sua cifra minutamente grafita in qualche angolo di essi.

Nè è a dire che uomini poco intendenti dell’antico cadessero in tale errore, lo stesso Ennio Quirino Visconti sommo ed oculato ingegno, fondatore dell’ Archeologia, vi diede in isbaglio, lasciandosi portare da poca considerazione quando illustrava dei suoi dotti commenti la Maschera tragica (alto rilievo fatto per ottanta scudi e venduto per novecento sterlini al Signor Beckford) tenuta per greca ed esistente ora nella preziosa raccolta di un privato signore inglese. Nel Museo di Londra pur venne riposta a grande onore la Flora soprannominata, in quello di Vienna il Trionfo di Bacco e Arianna in otto figure sopra sardonica, e in quello di Pietroburgo il famoso cammeo Augusto incoronato da una Provincia, creduto anche dal Dennon di greca mano. Così l’artista romano si godeva vivendo dell’onore che dai posteri vien tributato ai sommi deirantichità.

Roma artistica (1872)

Pistrucci upon one occasion, while still residing in Rome, had an antique pale-brown sard given him to recut by Domenico Desalief. The subject was a warrior crowned by a female, but so clumsily executed as to be of little value. There was, however, plenty of material to cut away. After taking an impression in wax, he altered the whole; then he cut away the knees of the figures, and recut them higher up, and so remodelled the design that not a trace was left of the original forms. The dealer was delighted, and sold the gem readily for the Imperial Russian Cabinet of St. Petersburg, where it still remains, and is regarded as of the highest value.

J. B. Marsh. Cameo cutting (1890)

See description: Неверов О. Я. Античные камеи в собрании Эрмитажа. Каталог. Искусство, Ленинград, 1988. С. 138—139, кат. № 354.

Credits:
(сс) 2018. Photo: Sergey Sosnovskiy (CC BY-SA 4.0).
Text: museum label.
Description (1): Necrologia: Benedetto Pistrucci // Atti della pontificia Accademia di belle arti in Bologna per la distribuzione dei premii, Bologna, 1856, pp. 51—59.
Description (2): Archibald Billing. The science of gems, jewels, coins, and medals, ancient and modern. London, 1867, pp. 83-86.
Description (3): Roma artistica: Pubblicazione mensile, illustrata, diretta dall’arch.to Raffaello Ojetti colla collaborazione di artisti Romani. Vol. 1. Roma, 1872, pp. 22—23.
Description (4): Marsh, J. B. Cameo cutting, London, 1890, pp. 17—18.
Keywords: gemma glyptics gem gems glittica gliptica gemme glyptik glyptique roman romana romano romani römische römischer romain romaine καμέα κάμερες cameo cameos cammeo cammei kamee camée kameo camée ελληνική μυθολογία mythologia graeca greek mythology mitologia greca griechische mythologie grecque θεότητα τύχη tyche goddess deity divinità tiche göttin divinité tyché ρωμαϊκή μυθολογία mythologia romana roman mythology mitologia römische mythologie romaine θεά φορτούνα fortuna goddess dea divinità göttin divinité fortune απεικόνιση portrait portraiture ritratto ritrattistica porträtmalerei porträt of a man male maschile uomo männliches mann masculin un homme carved anaglifico intagliato handgeschnitzt roman romana römisches romain αυτοκρατορικό imperial imperiale kaiserliches impérial ρωμαίος αυτοκράτορας κωνσταντίνος α΄ μέγας κωνσταντίνος imperator constantinus i magnus roman emperor constantine i constantine the great imperatore romano costantino il grande costantino i römischer kaiser konstantin der große konstantin i empereur romain constantin ier sardonyx sardonica sardoine laurel wreath corona di alloro laureata lorbeerkranz couronne de lauriers corona laurea δάφνινο στεφάνι armour armor armatura rüstung armure πανοπλία pterigi ptéryge pteruges pteryges ptуryges πτέρυγες reef knot nodo piano kreuzknoten heraklesknoten herkulesknoten nœud plat chitone chiton khiton χιτών head of gorgon medusa testa di gorgone gorgonenhaupt medusenhaupt gorgoneion gorgonion γοργόνειον anatomical cuirass muscular cuirass corazza anatomica muskelpanzer cuirasse musculaire musclée héroïque lorica musculata high-girded belt alta cinto wall mural crown wreath corona muraria turrita mauerkrone couronne murale tourellée corona muralis ear ears spiga spighe ähre ähren épi épis στάχυ στάχια benedetto pistrucci constantine the great and tyche of constantinople constantinople costantinopoli konstantinopel from the golovkin collection from the khitrovo collection inv no гр-12534 ж 146
History of Ancient Rome