Gemstone with engraved decoration

This onyx and gold gem dates back to the first quarter of the 19th century and depicts the elegant figure of Diana the Huntress.

Diana the Huntress stands out from the centre of a precious gold wire mount. Wearing a knee-length tunic, she was portrayed in the 19th century by master engraver, Giovanni Santarelli, as she takes an arrow from her quiver while her bow is held in her right hand and a running dog is depicted at her feet.

The collection

The art work

The gem showing the elegant profile of Diana the Huntress is part of the prestigious collection of engravings on semi-precious stones belonging to the de’ Medici family, considered by many early 18th-century travellers on the Grand Tour one of the main marvels of Florence. It is a precious reminder of the technical and artistic mastery behind these minuscule works of art, thanks to the skills of artisans including the author, Giovanni Antonio Santarelli, on a par with the carvers of the imperial periods.

In fact, starting in the Renaissance, popes, princes and cardinals, fascinated by the symbolic power of the subjects and the magical powers of the stones, sought out and collected cameos and carved gems, in some cases unleashing bitter conflicts among lovers of such jewels, willing to spend vast amounts of money on the objects of their desire.