Formerly in the Collection of the Duke of Marlborough

An 18th Century Hardstone Cameo Ring


a Renaissance Sardonyx Cameo of a Theatrical Mask, carved in orange and white sardonyx . Mounted in an antique gold and diamond set finger ring, circa 1780.

Italian, 16th Century.

UK ring size: N


By 1742, in the collection of Gabriel Medina of Livorno. 

Appears in Catalogue of the Genuine and Capital Collection of Antique Gems of Signor De Medina, Late of Leghorn, Merchant, Deceased, Langford, Covent Garden, 10-12 February 1761, no.64.

Acquired by William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough (1704-1793). Thence by descent to his son Frederick Ponsonby, 3rd Earl Bessborough (1758-1844).

Appears in Catalogue des Pierres Gravées, Tant en relief qu’en creux De Mylord Comte de Bessborough, Pair d’Angleterre et d’Irlande Dresseby Laurent Natter, where it appears as number 26 in the section Addition Des Pièces Montées en or, que Mr Le Comte de Bessborough A achete ici, dans la Vente de la fameuse Collection de Mr Medina, A Livourne, where it is described as: Un Masque de Face, avec une longue barbe, en Camee blanc & le fond noir.

Acquired by George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough (1739-1817), Blenheim Palace. Thence by descent to John Winston Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough (1822-1883).

Appears in Story-Maskelyne (1870) The Marlborough Gems; being a Collection of Works in Cameo and Intaglio formed by George, [3rd] Duke of Marlborough, no. 67.

Purchased by David Bromilow of Bitteswell Hall, Lutterworth in 1875.

Purchased by art dealer Asher Wertheimer (1844-1918)  for £7 and 10 shillings from Christies, London in 1899. It appears as number 677 in the catalogue The Marlborough Gems Being a Collection of Works in Cameo and Intaglio Formed by the [3rd] Duke of Marlborough Purchased by the Late David Bromilow Esq of Bitteswell Hall, Lutterworth ,where it is described as: Cameo on Sardonyx: A mask cut on a red stratum, the beard being rendered in a white layer on a dark ground, into which the eyes and mouth are cut down. Ever a Roman work. A Medina gem (Cat No.26M). Wertheimer was based at 158 New Bond Street and was painted by John Singer Sergeant between 1896-1898 (now in Tate Britain). In 1898 he paid the colossal sum of £122,000 for 83 paintings from the Hope Collection. He bought several other engraved gems from the sale of 1899.