Sleeping Shepherdess in a Moonlit Landscape, probably late 16th century
Alessandro Masnago (Italian, active by ca. 1560, d. 1620)
Agate; 3 1/8 x 2 1/2 in. (78 x 65 mm)
The Milton Weil Collection, 1938 (38.150.33)
Gems carved with highly pictorial evocations of nature by the great virtuoso Alessandro Masnago were eagerly sought by collectors, particularly Emperor Rudolf II in Prague. The thoroughgoing artistry with which Masnago could discern the marvels inherent in a piece of stone still causes the beholder to gaze in wonder and delight at this shepherdess sleeping with her flock and her dog amid the moonbeam and treetops from the hues and forms of a variegated agate, akin to moss agate.