THE cabinet of gems which contains the collections of Intagli and Camei is entered from the Sala dell’ Ermafrodito. At the end of the room, under glass, is a coloured terra-cotta bust of- Dante, taken from the mask after death ; it was bequeathed to the Gallery in 1865 by the Marchese Carlo Torrigiani. On either side of the bust are cases with Etruscan gold ornaments bequeathed by Mr. Curry, and two cases containing specimens of ancient glass belonging to early Christian Art, as well as the original wax model, by Michael Angelo, for his statue of Giuliano de’ Medici in the sacristy of San Lorenzo. There is likewise in the same case a large cameo portrait cut in agate of Charles V. (?) receiving the Order of the Golden Fleece from the hand of a child, who is presented to him by a female in rich attire and jewels ; male figures behind ; Fame above blows a trumpet. Another large cameo appears to be Roman work.
Within the case containing Etruscan remains is the old seal of the Florentine Republic, Hercules engraved on a green jade. This gem was at one time supposed to be a genuine antique, but the defective drawing of the arms and various inequalities in the workmanship, not to be found in fine Greek or Roman intagli, have decided connoisseurs to assign this stone to an artist of the medieval period. He was, how-ever, probably a gem-cutter of some reputation, and perhaps the artist patronised by Cosimo the Pater Patriæ, who has his nameless tomb in Santa Maria Novella.
A fine Roman mosaic, framed and hung on the wall near the window, represents the little owl of the country, the same as the Athenian owl of Minerva, but used in Italy to attract small birds. The owl is trained to jump from one piece of stick to another, in a manner which appears so strange to the feathered tribe, that little birds gather round him screaming, and as they alight on the nearest branches, which are already prepared with bird-lime, they are easily caught. The same subject has been painted by Albano in a small picture, formerly in the possession of the poet, the late Mr. Samuel Rogers. Beyond this mosaic are copies of various pictures in enamel, and above is a series of small pictures, by Bronzino, intended to represent the Medici family, probably taken from old portraits, which were painted for the Grand Duke Cosimo I. and placed in the private apartment of his palace. Opposite are portraits in pastel of Louis XIV., Marshal Turenne, and other distinguished persons, by Robert Nanteuil, Rosalba Carriera of Venice, &c.
The collection of camei and intagli, begun by Lorenzo de Medici, besides being the oldest of the kind in Europe, consisted of at least three thousand pieces, before the recent addition of Mr. Curry’s gems. The period during which the art of engraving precious stones was brought to greatest perfection by the Greeks and Romans extends from B.C. 300 to A.D. 200. The best gems belong to the reigns of Alexander of Macedon, B.C. 300 ; of Mithridates in Pontus, B.C. 120 ; of Augustus Cæsar, B.C. 63 ; and of Hadrian, A.D. 117. The art was revived in Italy in the sixteenth century, and attained high excellence among Italian, English, and German artists in the eighteenth. We can form no more perfect idea of Greek art than that presented in these engraved gems, which from their minute size, the durability of the material, and frequently from a certain superstitious value attached to the supposed properties of precious stones, have been preserved uninjured, where statues have been mutilated and pictures destroyed. Modern gem-cutters, whose skill was superior to their morality, have attempted, and often successfully, to forge the names of Greek or Roman artificers, and to pass their own works for those of greater artists ; they have thus raised doubts as to the authenticity of genuine antique works, whilst forfeiting for themselves the credit which would have been justly awarded them. As a general rule, the Greek or Roman gem, especially the Greek, is more correct in drawing and proportions, and more consistently perfect throughout all its parts, than modern works. There is also greater simplicity, less straining at effect or display of mere skill, and fewer accessories ; to this may be added the superior polish on the engraving, with dimness on the smooth surface caused by exposure and time ; but these last are not invariable tests, as both have been well imitated. The name of the artist occasionally engraved upon a gem may also have been added in later times, though it is rare to find the great beauty and precision of ancient lettering on a modern gem. Some are inscribed with the name of the possessor.
The more ancient Egyptian and Babylonian gems are either cylinders, or in the form of beetlesscarabei. The Etruscan gems, according to the period in Etruscan history in which they were engraved, approach the Egyptian or the Greek in form and style. Most of the stones used by the Greeks for this purpose were imported from Southern India or Ceylon, except a peculiar onyx from Northern Asia, of which there is a specimen in this collection, and which was introduced into Europe by the Persians after the invasion of Xerxes.
Among the most valuable intagli, or engraved gems, here are, Case IX.from entrance, No. 8, a sardonyx : Pallas Athenæ, the Greek Minerva, represented as the Palladium, or protectress of a city, where this image of the goddess was kept concealed, as a pledge of safety. As the Trojan Palladium was stolen by Ulysses and Diomedes to enable them to gain possession of Troy, the two heroes are represented on the pedestal of this gem committing the theft ; Pallas Athenæ carries her spear in her left hand, the shield in her righta proof that the gem was intended for a seal, as the reverse would appear on the wax impression.
No. 12, a paste or glass gem, of an amethyst colour : Aphrodrite or Venus seated, pouring water over her feet ; this paste is so transparent that Gori mistook it for a real amethyst.
No. 20, a fine carnelian : Cupid seated with his hands tied behind his back, while Nemesis, the avenging goddess, stands before him. Nemesis raises the lower part of her arm, exhibiting it to him from the elbow to the wristthe cubit measurewhich the Egyptians considered the symbol of justice : thus signifying that the measure of his iniquities to-wards Psyche was full.
No. 28, a very fine dark onyx : Apollo playing the lyre ; his feet hardly touching the ground, to denote extreme lightness, as the repose of his limbs and his undisturbed drapery prove that he is not in motion. The artist has combined purity of outline with rotundity. It is in very flat relief, and is among the finest Greek works in existence.
No. 29, a carnelian: Apollo as a shepherd, with the Nymph of a fountain. The same subject is represented in a statue of the Villa Ludovisi in Rome, and has been described by Winckelman ; the shepherd’s crook may signify that the god is leading the flocks of Admetus to pasture ; he leans his arm on the basin of the fountain in an attitude of repose.
No. 35, a paste, the colour of the yellow chrysolite : a Nymph is playing on a lyre. There are three gems with this subject, each of which has inscribed on it the name of a different well-known engraverChronius, Allion, and Onesias. This paste bears that of Onesias. They are all three probably copies of some celebrated statue which has been lost. Agostini, a writer on gems, states that Pausanias mentions Sparta figured as a woman playing on a lyre, and that the subject thus represented was to be seen in his days. The style of work on this paste is excellent, though probably only an ancient copy of a gem by Onesias.
No. 41, a red jasper : Mercury has his foot resting on a wine-skin, and two ears of corn spring up beside him ; the wine and bread were at all times symbolical of immortality, and were thus appropriately placed near the god who was supposed to conduct human souls to their last abode. His chlamys, or cloak, is twisted round his arm ; the caduceus is in his hand, and the petasuswinged capon his head, as if preparatory to his journey.
No. 47, a carnelian : Hercules with the Bull of Crete. This work is executed with a few touches, but is wonderfully effective; the style is grand. On a fine ancient altar in the Capitoline Museum of Rome, Hercules is thus represented, though beardless; here the demigod wears his beard.
No. 51, a chalcedony : Hercules found by Cupid, who is seated on his shoulder.
No. 52, a carnelian : Hercules shooting the Stymphalic birds : a work of great antiquity, and in the grand style.
No. 54, an amethyst : Hercules on Olympus with Hebe ; the work of a celebrated Greek gem-cutter, Teucron.
No. 68, a carnelian : a seated Bacchante, giving drink to a panther.
No. 69, a very fine carnelian : a Bacchante in a wild dance ; this gem resembles a figure on a coin of Syracuse, and is in very excellent style.
No. 70, a red jasper : Bacchus and Ariadne seated on a panther, a work of few touches, inscribed with the artist’s nameCarpus.
No. 74, an amethyst: Cupid on a lion with a human face, as seen on medals of Sicily and Campania, and which, according to the German critic Eckhel, represented Bacchus. The allegorical meaning is, love subduing the strongest.
No. 76, an amethyst: a family of Tritons ; fine Greek work. Case X. No. 93, a carnelian : Achilles fighting with the Amazons ; also fine Greek work.
No. 103, a chalcedony : a kneeling soldier.
No. 109, a carnelian : a tragic poet ; an old man seated, with a mask behind him.
No. 114, a sardonyx : a soldier on horseback ; the name Aulus inscribed on it ; the shield is Roman, and is cut on the blue layer of the stone ; this gem is supposed to allude to the games of the circus ; fine Roman work.
No. 116, a carnelian: a Greek warrior descending from his horse ; the shield is in too high relief for the best work, but it is a graceful composition.
No. 117, a sardonyx : an Etruscan gem of great interest. Two men bear the sacred shields, or ancilia. According to tradition, a shield was found in the Palace of Numa, which was supposed to have been sent down from Heaven, and the Haruspices declared that the Roman State would endure so long as this shield remained in Rome. Numa, accordingly, ordered eleven similar shields to be made, and he appointed twelve Salii (as those priests were called, who solemnised the worship of the gods by armed dances and song) to keep guard over them. Once a year, on the Calends of March, they were taken from the Temple of Mars on the Palatine Mount, where they were kept, and borne in procession through the city ; the Salii striking them with rods, sang the praises of Mars, Numa, and of Mamurius Vetturius, the armourer who cast the eleven shields. In this gem two of the Salii carry six ancilia attached to a pole resting on their shoulders. In a work on British antiquities, by John Kemble, will be found an engraving and description of a shield now in the British Museum, which was found in the River Thames, and closely resembles the ancile of this gem. According to the author of the description, the ornaments are attached in a manner peculiar to Etruria.
This will appear less difficult to account for, if we suppose the ancilia to have been Celtic shields, as the Celts, known as Galli or Gaels, and the Etruscans were among the earliest of the races’ who peopled Western Europe ; the Celts are said by Livy to have entered Italy in the reign of Tarquin the elder, only half a century after the death of Numa ; it is no improbable conjecture, therefore, that a Celtic shield may have been brought south of the Alps long before the Gallic invasion, and that its peculiar form may have been made use of; for purposes of priestcraft, by the Etruscan soothsayer in the palace of the pious king of Rome.
No. 127, a rare and valuable sardonyx in four strata : on one side is the Quadriga, or four-horse chariot of the Sun, encircled by a blue rim, representing the Heavens, on which are engraven the signs of the Zodiac, cut with marvellous delicacy and spirit ; on the other side is the Biga, or two-horse chariot of the Moon ; the inequality of the work on this side, and the signs of the Zodiac on the other, being represented according to modern usage, rather than ancient Greek tradition, have led to the conclusion that this gem is modern, and belongs to the Cinque-cento period.
No. 129, a green jasper : the Constellation of Aquarius, represented as a youth pouring water into a vessel ; two stars are above his head, a third star in his hand, a fourth on his breast, and a fifth on his knee.
No. 145, a sardonyx : with a very elegant representation of Apollo ; fine Greek work.
No. 358, a fine engraving on a sardonyx of the Head of Pallas, supposed to have been the portrait of a lady in the character of this goddess ; probably a modern work.
No. 146, a carnelian: a half-length figure of a Muse holding a pencil to her lips, whilst in her other hand is a scroll on which to write or draw.
Case XI., No. 185, a sardonyx : a fragment ; the head of Pluto in very flat relief, or rather cut in lines. This work is simple and grand, and probably belonged to the period of Phidias. The garland of wheat-ears and the hair are worked with the most exquisite finish. Ivy leaves adorn the border of the dress ;, the eyes are wide open and the pupil indicated.
No. 197, a carnelian : a splendid portrait ; supposed to represent Sextus Pompeius Magnus, the son of Pompey the Great. He accompanied his father into Egypt, and was present when he was murdered, He fled into Spain, and was finally put to death by order of Titus.
No. 204, a chalcedony : Portrait of Augustus Caesar ; an exquisite gem and a very pure stone.
No. 208, a carnelian : Busts of Nero and Lucius, sons of Agrippina ; and on the reverse Faustulus discovering Romulus and Remus, with the wolf, under a tree.
No. 217, a carnelian : Bust of Antonia, wife of Drusus, and daughter of Marcus Antoninus.
Case XII., No. 248, an amethyst : the portrait of Massinissa, Prince of Cyrene in Africa, whence valuable marbles have been brought to the British Museum. Massinissa was educated in Carthage, and fought in Spain, where he was defeated by Scipio. He made terms with the Romans and promised them his services in Africa. This gem is half Greek, half African ; the helmet bears the figure of Victory, finely engraved.
No. 252, a carnelian : Modesty, a beautiful head.
No. 260, a carnelian : the head of an old man ; the work of a celebrated gem-cutter, Hyllus.
No. 276, a carnelian : the bust of Apollo of Delos ; a fine work, perhaps by Dioscorides or Solon.
No. 284, a jacynth: the portrait of a Comic Actor in a Mask.
No. 313 , a sardonyx : the Chimaera mortally wounded.
After this gem follow several representations of animals, cows, oxen, horses, lions, cranes, &c., with sphinges, griffins, and other fabulous creatures, among which the most interesting is a winged sphinx, the signet of Augustus Caesar, discovered in his tomb, and presented to the Gallery in 1829.
Among the best of the antique camei, or the onyx cut in -relief, are :
Case I., near the door, No. I., Venus caressing Ganymede .on Mount Olympus, and looking back at Jupiter.
No. 2, a fragment : Minerva with the infant Hercules :strangling the serpents.
No. 3, Antonius Pius sacrificing to Hope ; more remark-.able for the size and beauty of the stone than for the work. The little winged figure near the altar represents the genius of -the emperor.
No. 4, Venus Victrix, or the Conqueror ; Julius Caesar, -who pretended to trace his descent from Venus, first caused the goddess to be represented armed. The arrangement of the hair and the ignoble features have suggested that this may have been a portrait.
No. 6, Venus attired by the Graces, a cameo of good style.
No. 7, Cupid mounted on a lion and playing a lyre this gem is quoted in many works on antiquities. The inscription, Protarchus faciebat, is in relief ; it is most delicate in execution and a very fine stone.
No. 8, four Amorini trying to raise the club of Hercules, whilst one buries his head in the hero’s cup.
No. 9, Cupid dragging Psyche along by her hair ; very exquisite workmanship.
No. 13, Apollo in gold on a ground of sardonyx is one of the most valuable ornaments of this collection. It belonged to the Piccolomini family, and from them came into the posession of the Electress Anna Maria, the daughter of Gaston, the last Medici Grand Duke.
No. 14, Mars Victor (Mars the Conqueror) ; a work among the best of the first century of the Roman Empire.
No. 17, Hercules binding Cerberus ; a favourite subject ; of which the finest example is the engraved gem by Dioscorides, in the Berlin collection.
No. 24, Bacchus and Omphale ; excellent style, executed on a fine stone.
Case II., No. 33, a female figure seated near a temple, with an image on her left arm, and surrounded by three other figures. The work is fine, but the subject difficult to explain. It may possibly refer to the story of Iphigenia in Taurus, when she recognises her brothers.
No. 34, a male figure suspending a sword on a column ; in excellent style and finely executed.
No. 40, a fragment restored in gold by Benvenuto Cellini.
No. 66, the bust of Omphale ; her head covered with the-lion’s skin of Hercules.
There are several heads of Medusa, and portraits.
Case III., No. 85, Mithridates VI., King of Pontus ; and several likenesses of Augustus Caesar.
Nos. 95 and 96, portraits of Agrippa.
No. 98, Tiberius with his mother.
No. 124, Livia.
No. 105, Caligula.
No. 106, Nero.
No. 107, The younger Britannicus.
No. 108, Galba.
No. 109, Vespasian.
Some other portraits, and a few representations of animals, complete the collection of ancient cameos.
The most important modern intagli are on the opposite side.
No. 345, the copy of the celebrated gem by Pamphilus, now in Paris, representing Achilles seated on a rock by the sea.
No. 346, the copy of the Dioscorides gem, belonging to the Duke of Devonshire ; Diomedes with the Palladium.
No. 354, a chalcedony : an allegorical representation of a marriage before a temple, by Valerio Vicentino.
No. 371, the celebrated carnelian on which is the portrait of Fra Girolamo Savonarola, by Giovanni, called delle Corniole, from his skill in gem-cutting. The wonderful life and finish of this work can only be appreciated by holding it up to the light.
No. 372, the bust of Pope Paul III., which belonged to Lorenzo de’ Medici.
No. 373, the bust of Leo X., by Pietro Maria da Pescia. No. 374, the Seal of Pope Leo X.; his own portrait with-out the tiara.
No. 375, the portrait of Bartolommeo Alviano, the famous Venetian general ; this gem is believed to have been engraved by Matteo di Bassano. Alviano commanded in the war of the League of Cambrai, in 1508, and was made prisoner by Louis XII. of France, who only set him at liberty in 1513.
No. 376, the portrait of Albert IV., Duke of Bavaria, probably by Annibale Fontana, of Milan. This Albert, called the Wise, reigned in 1435, and married Cunegonda, daughter of the Emperor Frederick III. He died in 1508, and his widow entered a convent at Munich.
No. 377, the portrait of the Saxon, Baron Philippe de Stosch, whose magnificent collection of gems laid the foundation of that belonging to the Berlin Museum. Baron Stosch died in 1757. He was employed by Lord Carteret to watch the movements of the Pretender in Rome, and from the odium he thereby incurred, he had to retire to Florence.
No. 378, a portrait of Sextus Pompeius, copied by Natter, from the celebrated gem in Berlin. Natter was a German, and one of the best gem-engravers of modern times ; he wrote a treatise on the subject, and died in 1763.
No. 379, an unknown portrait, likewise by Natter.
No. 383, the portrait of Lorenzo de’ Medici, when young. No. 384, the portrait of Francis L, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
A cameo, No. 229, Case VIII., represents his Duchess, Bianca
Cappello ; the delicate outline of her features in this gem gives a superior idea of her beauty to any portrait by Bronzino ; it is supposed to be the work of Bernardo di Castel Bolognese, for Cardinal Farnese ; there is also the likeness of Margaret of Austria, Governess of the Netherlands, and aunt of Charles V. Bernardo died in 1555.
A splendid collection of camei and intagli, formerly belonging to Mr. William Curry, of East Horsley, Surrey, who resided many years in Italy, and died at Nice in 1863, were bequeathed by him to the Tuscan capital. There is as yet no published catalogue ; and the gems are placed in cases so far removed from the window that it is impossible to form any opinion of their excellence.’
Among the valuable cameos, Case XVIII. No. 3, representing Luna in a Biga, is an excellent work.
No. 6, a woman filling a vase at a fountain, is also a very beautiful gem.
No. I0, a Bacchante, a fine antique fragment, and supposed to be the copy of a work by Scopas.
No. 18, a very fine antique cameo of a youthful Hercules, set in diamonds ; the ears are crushed like those of the Boxers in the Circus, and the demigod thus represented was called Herakles Pancratiastes, or Hercules the Boxer.
No. 31, a female mask on a turquoise.
No. 34, a fragment restored in gold ; a very fine work and admirably finished, of a Nereid on a Sea-horse.
No. 42, the bust of a female, probably a portrait.
Among the intagli of the Curry collection are many Etruscan scarabei, or gems cut in the form of a beetle. No. 208, a carnelian mask of very fine work.
No. 233, a pale ruby with the head of a beardless warrior, simple in form, but fine in character.
No. 337, an amethyst : Atropos, a Greek work.
No. 47, a beautiful carnelian ; the head of a barbarian ; very fine work.
No. 249, a sardonyx : a youthful Hercules.
No. 254, an amethyst : a bearded Indian Bacchus.
No. 255, a sardonyx : a female bust supposed to represent Io, the most important and valuable gem in the collection ; it is very beautiful, with a melancholy expression ; her luxuriant hair waves over her shoulders ; on the edge of the stone is inscribed the name Dioscorides, in Greek letters. Dioscorides was the favourite gem-cutter of Augustus Cæsar, and was alone permitted to take the portrait of the emperor ; he was born in Asia Minor, and was thus Greek by birth and education. Several of his gems are scattered throughout the collections of Europe ; they are marked by a star to express his name.’ The gem of Io has been copied by the best modern engravers, but it is here concealed in a case behind the door.
Rock Crystal and Pietra Dura.
A small room at the end of the first and second corridors contains various articles of virtù in pietra dura, rock crystal, and precious stones. Many of these were intended to decorate the altar of the Medicean Mausoleum in San Lorenzo ; others once held relics, and were then placed in a reliquarium constructed by Michael Angelo over the principal entrance of the sanie church. The Ciborium for the host or consecrated wafer was designed by Buontalenti in 1601, but never finished ; and the several parts of which it was to have been composed, were deposited here, viz. eight columns of Siennese agate, lapis lazuli, and Bohemian verde, and eight channelled columns of rock crystal, set in garnets, turquoises, oriental chalcedony, topaz, pearls, amethysts, rubies, and diamonds, the work of two Milanese artists, named Gaffuri. The seven statuettes of the apostles and the angel were designed by Giovanni Bilivert, the pupil of Cigoli, and were modelled by Orazio and Francesco Mochi, father and son. They are composed of jaspers from Volterra, Caselli, and Sicily ; of lapis lazuli, chalcedony, oriental alabaster, amethysts, agates, and silver gilt.
In the centre of the room is a table of pietra dura, executed in i600 for the altar of the Medicean Mausoleum, to replace the table of an earlier date and inferior workmanship, now in the Sala di Baroccio. In the centre is a representation of the port at Leghorn, as it appeared after the construction of the fortifications. The Grand Duke Cosimo I. was extremely desirous to promote the commerce of Leghorn, but his favourite scheme of building an efficient harbour was only fulfilled by his sons, Francis I. and Ferdinand I. When other states were involved in wars, Tuscany was happily exempt ; and thus the new port was filled with ships from all nations. Vessels of every shape and size are here represented, floating on a sea of Persian lapis lazuli, and among them a squadron of six galleys of St. Stephen, which drag two Turkish ships captive. The Order of St. Stephen was instituted by Cosimo I., in imitation of that of Malta, to protect the coast from the infidel, and to secure the permanent service of a fleet, without the expense of its maintenance.
The urns and vases, which once contained relics taken from San Lorenzo, were manufactured by order of Pope Clement VII., the nephew of Lorenzo the Magnificent, about 1533. They were removed to this Gallery by the Austrian Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1781. Several of them were manufactured by the most celebrated gem-cutters of the time ; and first among these was Valerio Vicentino, who executed for Pope Clement a cassetta, or casket, to contain the pisside, pyx, or box in which the consecrated wafer was placed on Thursday of Holy Week. The pyx itself was a work of great delicacy. It was of fine enamel, set with rubies, but was unfortunately stolen in 1860. Clement bestowed two thousand golden crowns on Valerio Vicentino for the casket, which was presented to Francis I. of France in 1533, upon the marriage of the Pope’s niece, Catharine de’ Medici, with the Duke of Orleans, afterwards Henry II. By some fortunate accident it was restored to Florence, and is now in Case II. of this room. Valerio was aided in the work by his daughter, whom he had instructed in his art. It is of rock crystal, lined with silver, thus giving an appearance of relief to the engraving. Within is a representation of Christ borne to the sepulchre, and four medallions with heads of the Evangelists. Slender channelled columns and a delicate cornice of enamel, said to be the work of Benvenuto Cellini, form a framework to the several compartments without, on each of which Valerio has carefully inscribed his name. In front are engraved the Story of the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi, and the Presentation in the Temple. At one end is Christ disputing with the Doctors ; on the back, St. John baptising the Saviour, the Woman taken in Adultery, and Christ driving the Sellers from the Temple ; at the other end, Lazarus brought to Life. The lid, which is in the form of a truncated pyramid, has ten subjects :the Supper in the House of the Pharisee ; the Entrance into Jerusalem ; the Prayer in the Garden ; Jesus before Caiaphas ; Pilate washing his Hands ; the Flagellation ; Christ bearing His Cross to Calvary ; the Marys at the Sepulchre ; and the Ascension. Between these are four small oval shields of blue enamel set in gold, bearing the Medici and Papal arms, as well as the device assumed by Clement, with his inscription, ` Cle. VII., Pont. Max.’ In this Case is also a beautiful rock-crystal vase bearing the monogram .of Diana of Poictiers, which was probably brought hither from France. But one of the greatest treasures is another cup of rock crystal in the form of a shell with gold enamelled handle, attributed to Benvenuto Cellini ; there is also a large vase of lapis lazuli.
Within the Cases round the room are dispersed eighteen vases of rare materials, made for Lorenzo the Magnificent, each bearing his inscription, ‘ LAUR. MED.’ The separation of the R in the centre was not unintentional, and is supposed to have implied the word Rex and this conjecture is confirmed by the small crown on the covers of the mesciroba, or mixing cups,. Case VI., in one of which is a vase of oriental sardonyx. The Medici ball rests on a royal crown. Of the eighteen Laurentian vases, five are of oriental sardonyx, four of red Sicilian jasper, one of yellow Sicilian jasper, one of carnelian, two amethysts, one red jasper, one in flowered jasper of Sicily, one in green, jasper, and the last in fossil-wood. They were all made in the gardens of the Casino di San Marco, where Lorenzo maintained a school for artists.
In Case V. is a small column of rock crystal, which was executed for the Grand Duke Cosimo I., to celebrate his destruction of the Siennese Republic. It rests on lions in agate and has a hexagonal golden stand. Though not a good style of work, it is remarkable for the multitude of figures introduced within so small a space, and has an historical interest. On the pedestal an allegory sets forth the greatness of Florence under the Medici rule ; a male figure, seated beneath a porch of the Tuscan order in architecture, has the attributes of commerce by sea and land ; a philosopher and a warrior dispute near the walls of a city guarded by the Lion of Florence ; Peace is symbolised by an olive, and a female with wheat in one hand and fruit in the other ; a husbandman drives oxen in a plough, and a shepherd guards his flocks, to represent agricultural and pastoral life a battle is taking place between cavalry and infantry, probably that of Montemurlo, gained by the Grand Duke Cosimo in 1537, when he captured his greatest enemy and former friend, Filippo Strozzi. Victory waves her palm-branch, and Fame holds a royal crown over a city, typical of Florence, whilst she blows her trumpet, and a horseman gallops towards the gate. In the upper part of this column are six medallions with portraits in ancient costume ; above is seated! a sovereign surrounded by a numerous Court ; he is in the act of bestowing the bâton of command on one of his courtiers, probably General Marignano, to whom Cosimo confided the, conduct of the Siennese campaign. The Pope is also represented surrounded by his cardinals, and blessing a bishop and a lay personage, supposed to be Cosimo’s ambassador to Rome, who obtained Pope Julius III.’s sanction for his master’s seizure of Sienna ; still higher up on the column is the siege ;. and, lastly, a warrior dosing the temple of Janus. The victorious soldiers ascend spirally, followed by prisoners ; they bear the enemy’s banners reversed, and other trophies ; two of the leadersMarignano and Don Francesco di Toledo (?)make a triumphal entry into Florence. Don Francesco was the ambassador of the Emperor Charles V., who was received by Cosimo and his son Francis, after the conquest of Sienna. On the top is a globe with a second figure of Fame, in gold,. blowing her trumpet.
Behind this column is a small view of the Piazza della Sig noria, in pietra dura and gold, the work of Maestro Giorgio Gaffuri, the Milanese before mentioned ; it was intended for one of the ornaments of the tribune of the Mausoleum de’ Medici in. San Lorenzo, as were also four small lunettes in gold, now also in this collection. The view was taken from that end of the piazza once called the Canto della Farina. Giovanni da Bologna’s. equestrian statue of the Grand Duke Cosimo I. is the most prominent object, and, with the Marzocco, the statues of David and of Hercules, by Michael Angelo and Baccio Bandinelli, is of gold; the architrave of the palace is in rock crystal joined with silver or copper gilt ; a porter carrying a load is issuing from the door of the old Custom House ; the sky is in lapis lazuli ; and agate, heliotrope, and jasper are used for the houses and pavement. The lunettes, in gold, are distributed in the opposite cases. They represent events in the reign of the Grand Duke Francis I. On one lunette, two engineers present the Grand Duke Francis the plan for the fortifications of Porto Ferraio, which is seen bathed by the Tyrrhenean and Mediterranean Seas, personified in the foreground ; there are two other persons in attendance, one of whom is seated leaning on a staff behind the Prince. In another lunette Francis is represented receiving the plan for the decoration of his villa of Pratolino. In a third Francis is approving the plan for draining the Marshes, a favourite scheme, never fulfilled, of the Tuscan sovereigns. In a fourth, Francis is giving orders for the embellishment of a fortress ; in .a fifth, Francis desires that the Port of Leghorn should be fortified ; and lastly, Francis is represented occupied with affairs of state.
Above the casket of Valerio Vicentino, in Case II., is a fine specimen of pietra dura, though a proof of the barbarous taste for mere display of riches in the decline of Art. The person represented is Cosimo II., the fourth Medicean Grand Duke ; and the labour and cost for this portrait has hardly been as successful as the result of a coloured print. The ground of the picture represents a room magnificently furnished, from whose windows there is a view of the cupola and bell-tower of the Cathedral. The head of the prince, the hands, legs, and lining of the mantle and ermine are in Volterra jasper, the hair in Egyptian flints, the rest of the dress in oriental chalcedony, red jasper from Sicily, gold and enamel and the whole sprinkled with diamonds, of which there are upwards of three hundred.
In Case IV. there is a statuette of Venus and Cupid in porphyry, the work of Pier Maria da Pescia, the great merit of which consists in the difficulties overcome from the hard material the artist had to deal with. Pier Maria da Pescia is most celebrated for an engraved gem, which is known as the Seal of Michael Angelo, preserved in the Paris collection.
In Case V. are two little vases of aqua-marina, and one of a single emerald ; another is formed from the agate called the cat’s eye, of extraordinary size, surmounted by a pearl ; a turquoise mask, also remarkable for its size, has diamond eyes ; a very fine vase of jasper with the head of the hydra, and a small golden figure of Hercules on the cover, is the work of Giovanni da Bologna.
In Case VI., a cup of rock crystal with one handle in gold enamel is a superb work attributed to Benvenuto Cellini, and a bust of Tiberius in artificial turquoise is by the same artist. The little inlaid box in this case is interesting, because sent by Frederick Augustus III., Elector of Saxony, to the Corsican General Paoli, as a proof of friendship. Paoli, when a refugee in London, in 1789, presented the box to Maria Cosway, an Italian lady from Lodi, the wife of the painter, Richard Cosway, whose portrait of General Paoli is in the third corridor of this Gallery. Mrs. Cosway was a woman of very superior abilities and enthusiastic nature. She appears to have adopted the cause of the Corsican patriot, and was created a baroness by the Austrian Emperor Francis I. in reward for her services to her native country, but more probably for her hostility to the French and to Napoleon Buonaparte, after Lombardy as well as Corsica had been conquered by their arms.
In Case I. and Case VI., near the door, are two gradini, or stands, which present fine examples of the most ancient pietradura work in fruit and flowers carved in high relief.