Gemmarum Antiquarum Delectus; Ex Præstantioribus Desumptus, Quæ In Dactyliothecis Ducis Marlburiensis Conservantur. - Choix De Pierres Antiques Gravées Du Cabinet Du Duc De Marlborough. - Tom. I. (II.) -

RA Collection: Book

Record number


Variant Title

Choix De Pierres Antiques Gravées Du Cabinet Du Duc De Marlborough


Londini:: Apud Joannem Murray., M.DCCC.XLV.

Physical Description

2 vols.; 435 mm.

General Note

Vol. I: [112] p., frontis., 50 pl. - Vol. II: [108] p., frontis., 50 pl.


Vol. I: [Frontis, t.p.] - Lectori Editor S. / Avertissement De L'Editeur - Index Gemmarum /table Des Pierres Gravées - [Divisional t.p.] - [Text and pl.]. - Vol. II: [Frontis., t.p.] - Index Gemmarum / Table Des Pierres Gravées - [Divisional t.p.] - [Text and pl.].

Responsibility Note

The Latin text of Volume I was by Jacob Bryant, with a French translation by Paul Henry Maty; that of Volume II was by William Cole, with a French translation by Louis Dutens.

The two frontispieces are signed as designed by G.B. ('J.B.' in Vol. II) Cipriani and engraved by F. Bartolozzi. All plates in Volume I and the last plate in Volume II are signed as drawn by G.B. Cipriani and engraved by F. Bartolozzi; all others in Volume II are unsigned.

The printer is named on the versos of the title pages: 'Excudebat Gulielmus Baxter, Oxon.'


N. Story-Maskelyne, The Marlborough gems (1870).

D. Scarisbrick, 'English collectors of engraved gems', in M. Henig, Classical gems ancient and modern intaglios and cameos in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (1994), p.xiii-xxiii.

Summary Note

The work had first been privately printed in two volumes ca. 1783. In this edition the frontispiece of Volume I carries the date of 1780.

The text is in Latin and French throughout.

The work describes one hundred engraved gems in the collection of the Duke of Marlborough. This celebrated collection had been assembled mainly by the fourth Duke, who bought the Arundel, Bessborough and Zanetti collections.

Each plate shows one gem, enlarged, with a scale-bar beneath. The gems show figures from Greek mythology or portraits of celebrated Greeks and Romans. Two of the most famous are that showing the marriage of Cupid and Psyche (which the Duke allowed to be reproduced by Wedgwood) (Vol. I., pl. 50) and that showing the head of Antinous. The frontispiece of Volume I shows Caesar offering caskets of gems to Venus; that of Volume II, an allegoric figure repulsing Time.

The collection was sold by the seventh Duke in 1875.


Purchased 1874-5 (see 'List of Books Purchased and Presented', RA Annual Report for 1874-5, Appendix No. 5, p. 41).

Binding Note

19th-century half green morocco, green cloth-covered boards, upper and lower covers gilt-stamped with armorial device and motto of the Dukes of Marlborough; spines lettered 'Gemmarum Antiquarum Delectus Choix De Pierres Gravées. Du Cabinet Du Duc De Marlborough Tome I. (II.)', 'R.A.' and 'Londini M.DCCC.XLV.'

Name as Subject


Mythology, Greek - Iconography
Celebrities, Greek - Celebrities, Roman - Portraits - History
Gems, Greek - Gems, Roman - History
Collections - Great Britain - 19th century
Catalogues - Great Britain - 19th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 19th century


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