The oval intaglio gem depicts a figure of a nude winged youth usually identified as Thanatos, standing with his legs crossed, leaning on a downturned torch in front of an altar. There are two lines of Greek text: TIBA (under the wing) and PRIMES (down the left edge of the gem). Set in a 19th century 9 carat rose gold ring with a bifurcated foliate band and an open back. Hallmarked WG&S, 9CT
UK private collection, acquired in the 19th century
In Greek mythology the winged youths Thanatos (Death) and his brother Hypnos (Sleep) were the children of Nyx (Night). Thanatos is often shown carrying or leaning on an inverted torch representing a life extinguished. With the additional motif of the altar, the gem is an early example of memento mori, with the deceased's name also inscribed. For a similar image of Thanatos on a Roman jasper intaglio, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, see acc. no. 231-1865.