Sleeping shepherdess in a moonlit landscape

Artist: Alessandro Masnago (Italian, active ca. 1560, died 1620)

Date: probably late 16th century

Culture: Italian, Milan

Medium: Agate

Dimensions: Overall: 3 1/16 x 2 9/16 x 3/8 in. (7.8 x 6.5 x 0.9 cm); 78 x 65.1 x 9.3 mm

Classification: Lapidary Work-Gems

Credit Line: The Milton Weil Collection, 1938

Accession Number: 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 moonbeams and treetops elicited from the hues and forms of a variegated agate, akin to moss agate.