Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Ganymede jewelry

Period:
Hellenistic
Date:
ca. 330–300 B.C.
Culture:
Greek
Medium:
Gold, rock crystal, emerald
Dimensions:
length of necklace 13 in. (33 cm); H. of earrings 2 3/8 in. (6 cm); width of bracelets 3 1/8 in. (8 cm); width of fibulae 1 15/16 in. (5 cm); H. of ring 13/16 in. (2.1 cm)
Classification:
Gold and Silver
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1937
Accession Number:
37.11.8–.17
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 158
The pieces in this group are said to have been found together in Macedonia, near Thessaloniki, before 1913. The assemblage forms an impressive parure (matched set) - earrings, necklace, fibulae (pins), bracelets, and a ring - but it is not certain that they belong together, for the pieces do not show a clear uniformity of style.

The gold strap necklace, dated circa 300 B.C., is made of three double loop-in-loop chains with double interlinking and a fringe of beechnut pendants. The terminals take the form of an ivy or grape leaf and have a border of beaded wire and a rosette in the center. Strap necklaces have been found in many areas of the Greek world, including southern Italy, Asia Minor, and the Northern Pontus region (around the Black Sea).

The superb gold earrings, dated circa 330-300 B.C., consist of a large honeysuckle palmette below which hangs a finely worked three-dimensional figure of the Trojan prince Ganymede in the clutches of Zeus, who has assumed the guise of an eagle. Zeus coveted Ganymede for his beauty, and carried him off to Mount Olympos to be a cupbearer for the gods. The pendants are sculptural masterpieces in miniature, no doubt reflecting in their basic conception a famous large-scale bronze group of the same subject, made by Leochares in the first half of the fourth century B.C. The airborne theme is ingeniously adapted here to an object that hangs freely in space.

The rock-crystal hoops of the bracelets (ca. 330-300 B.C.) have been carefully cut, carved, and polished to produce a twisted appearance, highlighted by wire bindings fitted into the valleys. The rams' heads emerge from long elaborate collars decorated with three friezes enclosed within bands of darts and bordered by plain beaded wire. The upper frieze, an ivy chain on a vine, is tied at the center with a Herakles knot and bears four bunches of grapes; the middle frieze has palmettes with pointed leaves; the third frieze, a palmette complex.

The two pairs of gold fibulae, of Macedonian-type, date to 330-300 B.C. Such fibulae (pins), which belong to a northern Greek type characterized by "paddle-wheel" decoration, were usually worn in sets of six. Two more matching fibulae have been identified, one in Berlin and one in the Gans collection. Each hinge plate, all produced with the same die, is decorated with the head of a woman wearing a lion skin. She can be identified as either Omphale, the queen of Lydia, wearing Herakles' lion skin, or Artemis, goddess of the hunt.

The toothed setting of the gold ring holds a fine-colored but flawed cabochon emerald. A similar ring was found at Derveni in a tomb of the late fourth century B.C. Emeralds first appeared in jewelry at this time and probably came from mines in the eastern Egyptian desert, though it is possible that some came from the Ural Mountains.
Said to be from near Thessaloniki (Richter 1937, p. 292).

Around 1913, collection of M. Ritsos; 1913, purchased by F.L. von Gans from M. Ritsos, Thessaloniki, Greece; 1919, purchased by Kurt W. Bachstitz from von Gans, Frankfurt, Germany; acquired 1937, purchased from Bachstitz, New York.
Zahn, Robert. 1913. "Die Sammlung Friedrich Ludwig von Gans im Antiquarium." Amtliche Berichte aus den königlichen Kunstsammlungen, 35: cols. 73-4.

Bachstitz, Kurt Walter and Dr. Robert Zahn. 1921. "Antike, byzantinische, islamische Arbeiten der Kleinkunst und des Kunstgewerbes, antike Skulpturen." The Bachstitz Gallery Collection, 2. no. 91, pp. 25-7, pls. 22-3, Berlin.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1937. "The Ganymede Jewelry." Bulletin of the Metropolian Museum of Art, 32(12): pp. 290-2, 294, fig. 2.

Grancsay, Stephen V. 1940. "The Art of the Jeweler: A Special Exhibition." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 35(11): p. 216.

Richter, Gisela M. A. 1953. Handbook of the Greek Collection. p. 156, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Amandry, Pierre. 1963. Collection Hélène Stathatos: Ojets Antiques et Byzantins, Vol. 3. pp. 204, 208-9, fig. 113, d-f, Strasbourg: l'Institut d'archéologie de l'Université de Strasbourg.

Weber, Martha. 1976. "Zeus und Ganymed auf einem griechischen Handspiegel." Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung, 91: p. 164 n. 63.

Higgins, Reynold. 1980. Greek and Roman Jewellery, 2nd ed.. pp. 129, 164, 167, pls. 48, a, 51, a, 167, a, Berkeley: University of California Press.

von Bothmer, Dietrich and Joan R. Mertens. 1982. The Search for Alexander: Supplement to the Catalogue. nos. S1-10, pp. 4-5, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pfrommer, Michael. 1987. Studien zu Alexandrinischer und Grossgriechischer Toreutik frühhellenistischer Zeit, Archäologische Forschungen 16. p. 20 n. 86, Berlin: Mann.

Kossatz-Deissmann, Anneliese, Brigitte Servais-Soyez, Fulvio Canciani, Giovannangelo Camporeale, Hans Peter Isler, Ingrid Krauskopf, Odette Touchefeu-Meynier, Marcel Le Glay, and Dr. Jean-Charles Balty. 1988. Eros-Herakles, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae, Vol. 4. no. 202, p. 164, "Ganymedes", Zürich: Artemis Verlag Zurich und Munchen.

Schwarzmaier, Agnes. 2000. "Nachklänge berühmter Meisterwerke auf griechischen Klappspiegeln." From the Parts to the Whole: Acta of the 13th International Bronze Congress held at Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 28 - June 1, 1996, Prof. Carol Mattusch, ed. p. 149 n. 33, Portsmith, R.I.: Journal of Roman Archaeology.

Woodford, Susan and Cambridge University Press. 2003. Images of Myths in Classical Antiquity. p. 120, fig. 88L, Cambridge.

Pandermalis, Dimitrios. 2004. Alexander the Great: Treasures from an Epic Era of Hellenism nos. 5a-e, pp. 123-25, New York: The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (USA), Inc.

Picón, Carlos A. 2007. Art of the Classical World in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Greece, Cyprus, Etruria, Rome no. 197, pp. 170, 440, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Picón, Carlos A. 2009. "Glass and Gold of the Hellenistic and Early Roman World." Philippe de Montebello and the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1977-2008, James R. Houghton, ed. p. 19, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2012. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. p. 72, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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