UK private collection, London. The intaglio mounted in the 19th century.
The iconography of this intaglio has most likely taken inspiration from the renowned Statue of Zeus at Olympia. The statue was a monumental enthroned figure of the god. Made by the Greek sculptor Phidias around 435 BC, it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
According to Strabo (Geography
8.3.30) this Phidian Zeus was so large it
threatened to lift the roof from the temple if it ever stood up, and could only be glimpsed partially through the temple
doors. Gems of this type therefore allowed the wearer access, and enabled the viewer to commune
with the god in his entirety, up close and at any time. The selection of a
translucent blue chalcedony mimics the god’s live presence, evoking the
shimmering blue sheen attributed to Zeus’ skin and hair by various ancient authors. This was a luster that signalled the god’s divinity and connected him to the sky, his primary
realm of authority. For a similar example see, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, accession no. 41.160.90.