An 18th century hardstone intaglio,, by Edward Burch,
Lot 338
An 18th century hardstone intaglio,, by Edward Burch,
Sold for £576 (US$ 967) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
An 18th century hardstone intaglio, by Edward Burch, circa 1760
The oval seal mounted as a pendant, carved to depict a draped female seated in an attitude of mourning, holding a victor's branch, in a landscape overhung by a tree, facing a rectangular garlanded pillar surmounted by a small figure of the ithyphallic fertility god Priapos, length 3.0cm.


  • The pillar bears the inscription in Latin letters in reverse 'INVICTO', to the undefeated, we can therefore assume that the woman is mourning a dead hero. The inspiration for this gem is rural scenes of sacrifice, some to Priapus, dating to late Republican Rome; but that this is an eighteenth-century gem is confirmed by the inscription in the exergue below. The Greek letters in reverse read 'B Y R CH', a Greek signature of the English gem-engraver Edward BURCH (1730-1814). The engraver's rare use of a Greek signature, the mixed imagery and the awkward depiction of the woman with her long body and small head all point to this as an early example of the work of Burch. Burch became one of the most accomplished and celebrated European gem-engravers, the first to be elected a Royal Academician.

    On Edward Burch, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004), vol.8, pp 724-5; The Dictionary of Art (1996), vol.5, p.187.