Allgemeines Programm

des Verlags Franz Philipp Rutzen

Max G. Bernheimer, The Ancient Gems from the Borowski Collection

(2007) 120 S., 441 Farb- und 200 Schwarzweißabbildungen; Format 23 x 29 cm, Leinen mit Schutzumschlag,
ISBN 978-3-938646-08-3, € 48 online bestellen

Elie Borowski's skills as a connoisseur were perhaps nowhere better displayed than in the collecting of ancient gems. This is unique among all collecting activities. The material itself is unique, since much has even survived from antiquity' above ground, while other sources are almost always the result of casual discovery and very seldom of controlled excavation. This has meant that the collectors role is supreme. There is no major collection in any public museum which is not based an the acquisition or gift of a private collection, and virtually the only other source for building a collection is a market fuelled by the dispersal of such collections. Yet it is not given to every collector to haue the >eye< required, an ability to See clearly and in detail, to judge subject, style, date, even authenticity; this is a skill not easily acquired, or even acquirable by many. I have known substantial collections within which the prize pieces viere added by accident rather than design or the result of informed choice.

We easily forget how Small they are in the hand, how difficult it is to See them properly in original, where the colour often does not help reveal the detail, and hardly less difficult sometimes to See them in Impression. So we feed an enlarged photographs and forget that we are studying one of the most remarkable arts of antiquitt': mang of the best pieces are sublime Works of art in their own right and not just virtuoso miniaturist work, like writing the Lord's Prayer an the head of a pin. The fact that they can be enlarged with no loss of strength in composition or detail of rendering, making them immediately comparable with what is comrnonly regarded as >major< art in metal or stone, is a tribute to their quality and worth. This is a case where a minor (in size) art is in fact a major art, and only very rarely even approached by the best of the coin-die engravers of antiquitt'.
The range here is notable: several important early Greek pieces from the Bronze Age, and to my eye especially the lion attacking a goat (no. 17) for the Wedding of technique - the blobs and circles - and lively action. Levantine seals tend to be mannered, but no. 36 neatly composes a variety of motifs an a broad field.
Almost more rare are examples of the Early Classical >Servere Style< an gems.
Seal-engraving within the borders of the Persian empire, and often no little inspired by Greek example, is a subject which was little known to early collectors, but well represented here.
Etruscan scarabs are rather an acquired taste, some are exquisite. This is truly a feast which lovers of ancient art in Jerusalem may be truly grateful to share, expertly presented here for a wider audience.

From the introduction of John Boardman