A large Roman garnet ringstone portrait of Livia, circa early 1st century A.D. Price Realized $30,000. Photo Christie’s Image Ltd 2014
The reverse concave, the obverse slightly convex, engraved with a draped bust of Livia, her center-parted hair pulled back over her ears, with a bun at the nape of her neck secured by a braid, a laurel wreath in her hair; 1 ¼ in. (3.1 cm.) long. Estimate $30,000 – $50,000
Provenance: with Michel Albert Manoukian, Paris, 1975.
Note: Livia Drusilla (30 January 58 BC– 28 September A.D. 29), wife of Rome’s first Emperor Augustus, is easily recognized from her many surviving portraits in marble, on gems and on coins. While the physiognomic details of her portraits vary very little over her long life, the style of her coiffure does evolves over time. The hair style of this large and impressive garnet intaglio portrait of her compares to her coin portraits minted after the death of her husband in 14 A.D., during the reign of her son Tiberius, as can be seen on a coin minted circa 22-23 A.D. The accompanying inscription on the coin indentifies her as Salus Augusta, the personification of health (see no. 160 in J.P.C. Kent,Roman Coins). On our gem she has the addition of a crown of laurel, also seen on other gem portraits of her from this period, including a sardonyx cameo in The Hermitage, no. B14 in W.-R. Megow, Kameen von Augustus bis Alexander Severus.
Christie’s. ANCIENT JEWELRY, 11 December 2014, New York, Rockefeller Plaza.