Zeus of Otricoli

Box by the Berlin court goldsmith Hugo Schaper with agate cameo of Zeus, around 1905

Rarely are superlatives as appropriate as in the case of this fine silver box by the Prussian court jeweller Hugo Scharper with an agate cameo from around 1905. Made of silver, the oval box uses the formal language of classicism with festoons and laurel wreaths. On the lid is a very vividly cut Lagenstein cameo with the portrait of Zeus, the father of the Greek gods. It is a work of Philipp Hahn jr. from the gemstone cutting company Ph. Hahn & Söhne in Idar Oberstein. Hahn based his depiction of the father of the gods on the marble bust of the so-called Zeus by von Otricoli, a Roman copy of a Greek original from the 4th century BC, which is now kept in the Vatican Museums in Rome. The cameo is particularly finely engraved and very raised, the head of the god exceptionally sculpted and detailed, her curls rendered in every strand, and this in agate, which is so difficult to work with. The two layers of the gemstone are a single piece of gemstone, with the upper white layer engraved in such a way that only the effigy remained, standing out in consequence against the black background. Stone carvings of this quality are extremely rare. Today, they are coveted collector's items and art chamber pieces of their own rank. In addition to the gem, the box is decorated with four fine pearls and four red rubies cut into cabochons. Precious boxes like this one were often gifts that deserving persons received as a special distinction from the Prussian king and the German emperor. The present silver box, for example, was a gift to the Dresden postal director Martin Tauber. An absolutely museum collector's item of both the goldsmith's and the lapidary's art of unusual quality and best preservation.

The childhood of the imperial and royal court goldsmith Hugo Schaper (1844-1915) was initially ill-fated. The son of a pastor from Alsleben (Saale) became an orphan at the age of only five, after first his father and then his mother died in quick succession. Together with his brother Fritz, he nevertheless managed to rise to the top of artistic life in the society of the German Empire despite this difficult start. His brother won the competition for the Goethe monument in the Tiergarten in 1871 and became a professor at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. He created the gable relief of the main facade of the Reichstag building, numerous statues and monuments of German sovereigns and also the famous so-called "Prussian Madonna", a larger-than-life statue of Queen Luise in the pose of Mary with Child. Hugo Schaper, in turn, also settled in Berlin and was quickly able to attract many wealthy customers from the bourgeoisie and nobility for his goldsmith's work. He worked in the various styles of Historicism and, after several years as "Court Goldsmith to Her Royal Highness the Princess. Friedrich Carl von Preußen", he was appointed court goldsmith to the emperor in 1898 at the latest - a position he retained until his death. He maintained his workshop at Potsdamer Strasse 8, not far from Potsdamer Platz.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.