A rare collection of intaglios, formerly belonging to Prince Stanislas Poniatowski (27)
Lot 23
A rare collection of intaglios, formerly belonging to Prince Stanislas Poniatowski
Sold for £ 25,000 (US$ 35,125) inc. premium

Fine Jewellery

19 Sep 2012, 14:00 BST

London, New Bond Street

Lot Details
A rare collection of intaglios, formerly belonging to Prince Stanislas Poniatowski
The twenty-seven carnelian, sardonyx and amethyst gems carved to depict classical scenes, fitted case (27)


  • Prince Stanislas Poniatowski (1754-1833), nephew of the last King of Poland, went into affluent exile in Italy in 1791. He was a passionate collector of antiquities and in later life commissioned an extraordinary series of about 2500 intaglios. Poniatowski encouraged the belief that the gems were ancient engravings when in fact they were created by a group of contemporary gem-engravers in Rome who signed them with known or invented signatures. Poniatowski published a catalogue of his gems with elaborate descriptions and when, after his death, this collection was offered for sale by Christie's in London, connoisseurs and potential buyers were outraged to discover that the gems were 'modern' and the sale was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, one John Tyrrell, not otherwise known as a collector, bought more than seventeen hundred Poniatowski Gems, believing them to be genuinely ancient, as an investment and had numerous sets of plaster casts made from them which he published with an 'Explanatory Catalogue' in 1841. It is only now that the gems are appreciated in their own right as fine examples of neo-classical gem-engraving.

    Prince Stanislas Poniatowski
    Christie's, London, 1839
    John Tyrrell, Esq.
    Christie's, London, 1854
    Private collections, and thence to the current owner

    Reference literature
    Platz-Horster, G., L'antica maniera. Zeichnungen und Gemmen des Giovanni Calandrelli in der Antikensammlung Berlin, 2005

    Poniatowski, S., Catalogue des pierres gravées antiques de S.A. le Prince Stanislas Poniatowski, 1830-1833

    Prendeville, J., Explanatory catalogue of the proof-impressions of the antique gems possessed by the late Prince Poniatowski and now in the possession of John Tyrrell, Esq, H. Graves for the proprietor, London, 1841

    i. Cornelian. Theseus being instructed by Ariadne how to return from the labyrinth. The hero is leaning on his club receiving the gift. Polyklet.
    Poniatowski, no IV.194
    Christie's, 1839, no 759
    Prendeville, no 607
    Platz-Horster, no 36

    ii. Sardonyx. Dido and Aeneas. Dido is entreating Aeneas to delay his departure, Aeneas is pointing to the sky indicating his duty to the gods. Kromos.
    Poniatowski, no VII.30
    Christie's, 1839, no 258
    Prendeville, no 1108

    iii. Cornelian. Hercules killing Erginus, King of the Orchomenes, with arms taken from the temple of Minerva. Kromos.
    Poniatowski, no II.276
    Christie's, 1839, no 942
    Prendeville, no 393

    iv. Cornelian. Ulysses and Diomede hanging the arms of Dolon from a tree, a trophy to Pallas. Kromos.
    Poniatowski, no V.282
    Christie's, 1839, no 1121
    Prendeville, no 917
    Christie's, 1854, no 103
    Platz-Horster, no 64

    v. Cornelian. Hercules after overthrowing Cacus grips him by the throat with such force that he strangles him. Kromos.
    Poniatowski, no II.316
    Christie's, 1839, no 2302
    Prendeville, no 423

    vi. Cornelian. Hercules killing Erginus with the arms of Minerva. Dioskourides.
    Poniatowski, no II.277
    Christie's, 1839, lot 1854
    Prendeville, no 394

    vii. Cornelian. The death of Hecuba, stoned by the Thracians. Pyrgoteles.
    Poniatowski, no V.363
    Christie's, 1839, no 1411
    Prendeville, no 952

    viii. Cornelian. Alcmaeon, by order of his father, taking the bracelet from Eriphyle and killing her. Dioskourides.
    Poniatowski, no IV.134
    Christie's, 1839
    Prendeville, no 559

    ix. Cornelian. Venus presenting fragrant oil to Phaon in his ship. Pyrogoteles.
    Poniatowski, no VIII.6.14
    Christie's, 1839, no 2398
    Prendeville, no 1191

    x. Cornelian. Laodamia and Protesilaus fainting at the entrance to Tartarus. Pyrgoteles.
    Poniatowski, no IV.329
    Christie's, 1839, no 234
    Prendeville, no 723

    xi. Cornelian. The birth of Hercules. Dioskourides.
    Poniatowski, no II.213
    Christie's, 1839, no 1710
    Prendeville, no 344

    xii. Cornelian. Bacchus presenting the ashes of Achilles and Patroclus to Thetis. Gnaios.
    Poniatowski, no II.47
    Christie's, 1839, no 2313
    Prendeville, no 274

    xiii. Amethyst. Theseus receiving from Ariadne the thread to guide him through the labyrinth. Pyrgoteles.
    Poniatowski, no IV.195
    Christie's, 1839, no 1696
    Prendeville, no 608
    Christie's, 1854, no 49
    Lord Monson
    Platz-Horster, no 36

    xiv. Amethyst. The metamorphosis of Hermaphroditus. Gnaios.
    Poniatowski, no I.358
    Christie's, 1839
    Prendeville, no 234

    xv. Amethyst. Anymone by order of Neptune taking the trident out of the rock. Gnaios.
    Poniatowski, no IV.315
    Christie's, 1839, no 2433
    Prendeville, no 710

    xvi. Amethyst. Terpsichore clipping the wings of one of the Pierides. Appolonides.
    Poniatowski, no II.92
    Christie's, 1839, no 1690
    Prendeville, no 281

    xvii. Chalcedony. The infant Vulcan, having fallen from the heavens onto the island of Lemnos, being saved by Thetis and Euronyme. Apollonides.
    Poniatowski, no I.151
    Christie's, 1839, no 1261
    Prendeville, no 98
    Platz-Horster, no Z.II.19

    xviii. Carnelian. Probably: Venus who is wounded by Diomede being led away by Iris. Gnaios.

    xix. Carnelian. Echidna stealing the horses of Hercules. Solon.
    Poniatowski, no II.264
    Christie's, 1839, no 1541
    Prendeville, no 381

    xx. Chalcedony. Hercules cleansing the Augean stables, turning the course of the Alpheus. Cromos.
    Poniatowski, no II.250
    Christie's, 1839, no 2042
    Prendeville, no 370

    xxi. Carnelian. Hector and Ajax exchanging gifts after combat in the presence of two heralds. Dioskourides.
    Poniatowski, no V.327
    Christie's, 1839, no 808
    Prendeville, no 928
    Platz-Horster, no 64

    xxii. Sardonyx. Syrinx transformed into reeds pursued by Pan near the river Ladon. Apollonides.
    Poniatowski, no II.145
    Christie's, 1839
    Prendeville, no 305

    xxiii. Carnelian. Homer playing the lyre attended by Fame and a genius. Allion.
    Poniatowski, no VIII.6.3
    Christie's, 1839, no 2460
    Prendeville, no 1207
    Christie's, 1854, no 77

    xxiv. Carnelian. The genius of sleep (Somnus) delivering Juno's message to Neptune. Gnaios.
    Poniatowski, no V.90
    Christie's, 1839, no 1265
    Prendeville, no 808
    Christie's, 1854, no 104

    xxv. Carnelian. Pluto carrying off Prosperine in a quadriga. Apollonides.
    Poniatowski, no I.142
    Christie's, 1839
    Prendeville, no 91

    xxvi. Carnelian. Combat between Podalirius and Alsus. Gnaios.
    Poniatowski, no VII.91
    Christie's, 1839, no 2200
    Prendeville, no 1163

    xxvii. Carnelian. Jupiter, Juno and Vulcan, Vulcan presenting nectar to Juno. Solon.
    Poniatowski, no V.39
    Christie's, 1839, no 107
    Prendeville, no 781
    Christie's, 1854, no 84

    With grateful thanks to Dr Claudia Wagner at the Beazley Archive for her help in identifying these intaglios.
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations


If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Wine, Coins & Medals and Motor Cars and Motorcycles:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first £175,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from £175,001 to £3,000,000 the Hammer Price
12.5% from £3,000,001 of the Hammer Price

VAT at the current rate of 20% will be added to the Buyer's Premium and charges excluding Artists Resale Right.

Payment Notices

Payment in advance: by cash, cheque with banker's card, credit card, bank draft or traveller's cheque.

Payment at collection: by credit or debit card.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

  1. Customer Services (UK)
    Customer services
    Work +44 20 7447 7447
    FaxFax: +44 20 7447 7401
  2. Jewellery (UK)
    General enquiries
    Work +44 207 468 8278
    FaxFax: +44 20 7499 5364
  3. Shipping (UK)
    Logistics - Shipping
    Work +44 20 7468 8302
    FaxFax: + 44 20 7629 9673
Similar Items