Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Gold finger ring engraved with an image of Hermes

Late Classical
late 4th century B.C.
Greek, South Italian, Tarentine
Overall: 13/16 x 7/16in. (2 x 1.1cm)
Gold and Silver
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Bothmer Purchase Fund and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1994
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 158
The broad oval bezel of this heavy gold ring is engraved with an intaglio showing the youthful messenger-god Hermes balancing on his left leg as he fastens a wing to his raised right foot. The god wears a short mantle that encircles his neck and hangs down his back. Winged sandals or boots are a standard attribute of Hermes, but it is unusual to find the wings attached to the figure's ankles rather than to some form of footwear.
Since its first publication over a century ago, this ring has been associated with a notable sculptural type in monumental Greek sculpture, the Sandal-Binder Hermes, traditionally ascribed to the sculptor Lysippos. Echoes of this particular composition, showing the god tying or untying his winged sandal, appear in decorative arts as well, notably on coins of Sybrita, in Crete, dated to the late fourth century B.C. Our ring, however, can be stylistically grouped with a handful of accomplished late Classical gold rings from Magna Graecia, which is in fact the alleged findplace of our piece (Tarentum in southern Italy).
Fürtwangler, Adolf. 1900. Die antiken Gemmen: Geschichte der Steinschneidekunst im klassischen Altertum. pl. 61:35, Leipzig, Berlin: Giesecke & Devrient.

De Ricci, Seymour. 1912. Catalogue of a Collection of Ancient Rings Formed by the Late E. Guilhou. no. 210, Paris.

Lippold, Georg. 1922. Kameen und Gemmen des Altertums und der Neuzeit. pl. 10.6, Stuttgart: Julius Hoffman.

Sotheby & Co. 1937. Superb Collection of Rings. November 9–12, 1937. lot 128.

Boardman, John. 1964. Greek Art. no. 733 , New York: Praeger.

Horster, Gertrud. 1970. Statuen auf Gemmen. pp. 30–31, pl. 7.2, Bonn: Habelt.

Boardman, John. 1970. Greek Gems and Finger Rings: Early Bronze Age to Late Classical. no. 733, pp. 229, 422, fig. 241, London: Thames and Hudson.

Boardman, John and Diana Scarisbrick. 1977. The Ralph Harari Collection of Finger Rings. p. 16, fig. 10, London: Thames and Hudson.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1990. Herakles-Kenchrias, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 5. no. 960a, p. 369, Zürich: Artemis Verlag.

von Bothmer, Dietrich, Carlos A. Picón, Joan R. Mertens, Elizabeth J. Milleker, and Ariel Herrmann. 1995. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1994–1995: Ancient World." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 53(2): p. 11.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1995. "One Hundred Twenty-fifth Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 1994 through June 30, 1995." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 125: p. 16.

Aldona, Snitkuviene. 2008. Birzu Grafai Tiskeviciai Ir Ju Palikimas. no. 731, p. 228, Kaunas, Lithuania: M.K. ̆Ciurlionio Dailė Muziejus.

Picón, Carlos A. 2009. "Glass and Gold of the Hellenistic and Early Roman World." Philippe de Montebello and the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1977-2008, James R. Houghton, ed. pp. 20–21, fig. 28, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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