Gold ring with intaglio of seated woman and flying Eros

Period: Classical

Date: 2nd half of the 5th century B.C.

Culture: Greek

Medium: Gold

Dimensions: Overall: 7 1/16 x 7/16in. (18 x 1.1cm)

Classification: Gold and Silver

Credit Line: Purchase, The Bothmer Purchase Fund and Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1994

Accession Number: 1994.230.1


The bezel of this ring has an exquisitely detailed intaglio of a woman approached by Eros. The woman is seated on a stool, one turned leg of which is visible. Her hair is bound up in a netlike sakkos. She wears earrings, a necklace, and, on her right wrist, a double bracelet. A belted chiton covers her upper arms, and a himation is bunched around her waist, covering her legs. The fabric's folds are rendered in parallel ridges, organized to clarify the direction of the drapery as well as to reveal the forms of the body. The woman holds a frond in her right hand. Eros flies up toward her face, touching her right shoulder with one hand and raising a wreath to her head with the other.
Such a scene was fairly common on this type of ring, which was made to be decorative rather than to serve primarily as a signet. Both the subject and the rendering are also closely related to the work of contemporary Attic vase painters, who often showed Eros with either Aphrodite or a bride being prepared for her nuptials. The composition of the figures together with the fine details and the impression of sculptural weight make this a diminutive masterpiece of the high Classical period.