Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Possibly by Niccolò Cerbara (1793–1869)
ca. 1810–20
Italian, Rome
Sardonyx; mounted in silver-gilt
Overall: 1 9/16 x 1in. (4 x 2.5cm); visible cameo (confirmed): 28.8 x 21.9 x 7.7 mm
Lapidary Work-Gems
Credit Line:
The Milton Weil Collection, 1940
Accession Number:
Not on view
The Neoclassical age prized the sternly republican marble head of Cicero (106–43 B.C.) in the Musei Capitolini, Rome. An intaglio after it by Nathaniel Marchant (40.20.1) circulated in the form of gypsum impressions. The Roman carvers of these two heads consulted the sculpture itself, obtaining different results. The more numismatic approach of the cameo carved about 1810–20 by a member of the Cerbara family, in which the features are affixed with broad authority, typifies the work of that clan (Gian Battista Cerbara [d. 1811] sired Giuseppe [1770–1856] and Nicola [1796–1869], Nicola succeeding Giuseppe as master of the papal mint). Yet Cerbara also employed the buff areas to suggest flesh, while the starker white-on-black contrast in Giuseppe Girometti’s Cicero (40.20.42) evokes marble. Girometti’s work is also more detailed, delivering a keener sense of the great orator’s cogitations through his careworn features.
Signature: Incised to left of head: CERBARA

Marking: Unmarked
Milton Weil (until 1938; to MMA)
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