Carnelian ring stone

Period: Imperial

Date: ca. 1st –3rd century A.D.

Culture: Roman

Medium: Carnelian

Dimensions: Length: 1/2 in. (1.2 cm)

Classification: Gems

Credit Line: Gift of John Taylor Johnston, 1881

Accession Number: 81.6.48


This is a rare depiction of an artist at work. In his right hand, he holds a stick-like object that has a round knob at one end and is pointed at the other and slightly thickened, likely a brush. In his left hand, he holds another object, which is evidently not a mallet but perhaps a palette seen in perspective. Ancient marble sculpture was often brightly painted. The artist holds his tool lightly and is probably painting rather than modeling.