A Fine Pair of Italian ‘After the Antique’ Carved Ivory Classical Portrait Relief’s
Late 18th Century
Size: 5cm high, 3.5cm wide – 2 ins high, 1¼ ins wide
5cm high, 4cm wide – 2 ins high, 1½ ins wide
These cut away, ivory profile heads were probably carved after antique Roman gems. The portrait relief wearing a helmet formed from a lion’s head and mane probably represents the Roman Emperor Trajan (AD98-117) who took up the attributes of Hercules.
The Roman god Hercules originated from the Greek hero Herakles and embodied the masculine characteristics of great strength, courage and appetite. He was a popular cult figure with the Roman legions, who in battle, would cry ‘Mehercle’ as an aid to courage.
The other relief probably portrays the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD161-80) wearing the helmet of Achilles, the invincible warrior and hero of Homer’s Iliad.