Agrippina Sitting on the Ground and Leaning her Head on the Urn

Agrippina Sitting on the Ground and Leaning her Head on the Urn

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Object Name: 
Cast Glass Gem
Agrippina Sitting on the Ground and Leaning her Head on the Urn
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 2.5 cm, W: 2.2 cm, Th: 0.5 cm
Not on Display
Credit Line: 
Gift of Dwight and Lorri Lanmon
Web Description: 
The Age of Enlightenment (mid-17th and 18th centuries) brought with it an overall desire for knowledge about the natural and artificial curiosities of the past. Grand Tours led young men of noble families across Europe in search of knowledge about art, architecture, and antiquity. During this time, cameos and intaglios were seen as a gateway to the ancient world. Works of art in their own right, these engraved gems were prized and avidly collected by scholars of antiquity. Because members of the aristocracy tended to own cabinet-style collections, interaction with objects was limited to small groups of individuals. Glass casts of gems (see also 2013.3.8 and 2013.3.10), often in glass colored to imitate the original gemstone, allowed for greater access to and dissemination of these privately owned collections. James and William Tassie were prominent London modelers, collectors, and merchants of classical gem impressions during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This gem, a copy of an 18th-century sardonyx original, depicts Agrippina the Elder seated beside the cinerary urn of her dead husband, Germanicus (15 B.C.–A.D. 19). The original gem was carved by the great English master Nathaniel Marchant, who worked in Rome from 1773 to 1789. Marchant was commissioned by James Tassie to create modern gems of classical subjects. Mourning was a theme that appeared frequently during this period. The depiction of Agrippina mourning with a cinerary urn is found in numerous works from the late 18th century, including a 1773 painting by American-born Benjamin West (1738–1820), now in The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; and a 1765–1772 painting by Gavin Hamilton (Scottish, 1723–1798) and a 1773 etching by Alexander Runciman (Scottish, 1736–1785), both in the Tate Gallery, London. Signed: “MARCHANT,” below groundline. Unpublished. Related publication: Rudolf Erich Raspe, A Descriptive Catalogue of a General Collection of Ancient and Modern Engraved Gems, Cameos as well as Intaglios: Taken from the Most Celebrated Cabinets in Europe; and Cast in Coloured Pastes, White Enamel, and Sulphur by James Tassie, Modeller, London: J. Tassie and J. Murray, 1791, p. 635, no. 11282. For more about classical and classically inspired engraved gems, see Judy Rudoe, “Engraved Gems: The Lost Art of Antiquity,” in Enlightenment: Discovering the World in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Kim Sloan and Andrew Burnett, London: British Museum, 2003, pp. 132– 139.
Lanmon, Dwight P., Source
Cast below the figure
Primary Description: 
Cast Glass Gem, "Agrippina Sitting on the Ground and Leaning her Head on the Urn." Transparent brownish amber glass; cast. Gem depicts the figure of Agrippina, who sits beside a cinerary urn in an attitude of mourning for her dead husband, Germanicus. An inscription in capital letters below the figure reads MARCHANT, that of Nathaniel Marchant 1739-1816.
The Corning Museum of Glass: Notable Acquisitions 2013 (2014) illustrated, p. 10 (#4);
Notes: Corning Museum Adds Major Work to Glass, Library Collections (2014) illustrated, p. 376, #4;
Recent Acquisitions (2013) illustrated, p. 15; BIB# AI95664