Ca. AD 200
A Roman gold finger ring composed of a round hoop that has been formed of a thin rod with a twisted effect. The shoulders of the ring have been reinforced to provide additional support, and the circular bezel cell is set with a carnelian intaglio that depicts a left-facing centaur, a creature that has the upper body of a human, and the lower body of a horse. The centaur in the intaglio is depicted in a left-facing position, with its human-like upper body raised and its horse-like lower body positioned in a galloping stance. The detailed engraving on the carnelian intaglio captures the muscular build and powerful movement of the creature.
The lavish use of gold jewellery was not considered socially acceptable during the Roman Republican period and was even barred through sumptuary laws such as Lex Oppia (215 BC), which forbade any woman to possess more than half an ounce of gold. From the Augustan period onwards, these restrictions became more relaxed, and costly gold jewellery was made in large quantities in a style heavily influenced by Etruscan and Late Hellenistic artistic traditions.
Provenance: Private London collection; formerly acquired on the British art market, 1990s.
ROMAN GOLD RING WITH CENTAUR INTAGLIO
D: 16.51mm / US: 6 / UK: M ; 5.67g