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Ideal Head of a Woman Giovan Giorgio Lascaris

Artist:

Giovan Giorgio Lascaris [?] 1496 – 1531 Padua

Date: early 16th century
Medium: rock crystal, in silvered copper frame
Dimensions: 10.9 × 7.5 × 3.5 cm
Type: relief
Inventory number: 79.2
Collection: Sculpture

Active in Venice, Padua, and Verona, Giovan Giorgio Lascaris was a sculptor of Greek origin who adopted the name of Pyrgoteles, a legendary gem engraver. It was recorded by Pliny the Elder that Pyrgoteles was the only gem carver permitted to execute Alexander the Great’s portrait in emerald. In 16th-century Venice, precious stone carving was revived under the influence of antique gems. Lascaris was not only a sculptor but also, a gem engraver. He carved in rock crystal the classicising bust of a woman seen in Budapest. In contemporary Venetian painting and sculpture, we find several ideal portraits where the identity of the subject or the theme is unknown. The rock crystal relief in Budapest is one of these.

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