Neoclassical Carnelian intaglio with Ulysses and Minerva Frightening the Suitors with the aegis, from the 19th century collection of Prince Stanislas Poniatowski (1754-1833), $6500 (£5300) at Hindman.

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Moreover, these ancient, engraved gems crafted from precious and semi-precious stones (such as carnelian, agate, jasper and sapphire) often survive in excellent condition due to their natural hardiness.

Generating multiple bids at the Hindman (26/20/15% buyer’s premium) May 25 sale in Chicago was a finely carved fragment of a Roman carnelian intaglio (c.1st century BC-1st century AD) showing the upper body of a dancing satyr mid-leap with his head thrown back, a pose inspired by a now lost work by the Greek sculptor Praxiteles. It was taken to $7000 (£5700) against an $800-1200 guide.


A Roman Carnelian Intaglio Fragment with a Dancing Satyr with the Bacchic Fury, c.1st century BC-1st century AD, $7000 (£5700) at Hindman.

Also in the sale were a handful of later, neoclassical carnelian intaglios from the 19th century collection of Prince Stanislas Poniatowski (1754-1833).

The Polish nobleman commissioned about 2500 gems depicting scenes inspired by classical literature from a group of gemengravers in Rome and encouraged the belief that they were ancient. Scattered around the world after their age was contested, they are now being rediscovered and viewed as an important part of our understanding of neoclassical interpretations of classical mythology through literature.

All six lots sold above their estimates to the same phone bidder, who spent $34,500 (£28,000) in total, including $6500 (£5300) on an intaglio depicting the most complex scene of the group, Ulysses and Minerva frightening the Suitors with the aegis.