Russian Metal Artworks

Horse head-shaped seal

    Horse head-shaped seal

    Russia, St. Petersburg

    the 3d quarter of the 19th century

    Samuel Arnd workshop

    Silver; casting, chiselling, gilding, carving, grinding, polishing

    Height 11.8 cm

    Marks: "SA"; St. Petersburg coats of arms; "84"

    Silver seal preform in the form of cast horse head - upturned, with ajar mouth, exposing even teeth and wide nostrils. The figurine is posted on octagonal pedestal from red-brown ornamental stone. The horse neck connects the figurine and pedestal and is decorated with carved floral pattern. The name and surname of the owner are carved on the matrix in Cyrillic letters imitating the ancient Russian print.

    The seal is made from smoky quartz, that resembles the above described item, is stored in the collection of the Museum of the Lapidary Art History and Jewellery in Ekaterinburg. The researchers supposed that the figure of a chess knight might have served as a prototype for the figurine. The international chess tournament was held in London in 1951. The artist Nathaniel Cook composed a particular style of chess pieces on the eve of this event. The design was approved by the famous English chess player G. Staunton. The only difficulty while realizing this work was caused by the figure of the knight - the most realistic character in chess. The artist found the sought-for image in the British Museum. It was the image of a horse from the Parthenon frieze that had a vigorous neck, lifted up head and hogmaned. In time, the Staunton chess set became a standard, widely spread throughout the world (the first set was released in March 1849) and is still in use. The seal in the form of a horse's head has something in common with the expression of Staunton's chess knight. Thus the latter might had served as prototype for the figurine".

    Quoted from: Yuri Zverev Ural stamps // Carl Faberge and the lapidary art masters. Russian semiprecious stones treasures. M. 2011, p. 277-278.