– D –
A cameo have carved relief decoration on both sides of the same stone, e.g. an Italian onyx cameo, c. 1520-30, with on one side a carved bust of Hercules cut in blue stratum, and on the other side a carved bust of Omphale cut in white/brown strata, given c. 1530 by Emperor Charles V to Pope Clement VII who gave it to the Piccolomini family (it was probably set originally as a pendant).
– C –
Originally a gemstone having layers of different colours (e.g. sardonyx and cornelian) carved to show in low relief the design and background in contrasting colours.
The earliest carved two-colour stones, dating from the period of Sumerian jewelry, were merely beads in cabochon form and sometimes stones carved in intaglio for use as seals. Later, from the Hellenistic period in the 2nd century BC, carving was done by the Greeks (and subsequently by the Romans) to produce cameos in low relief as ornamental pieces of jewelry.
The art continued to a reduced extent throughout the Middle Ages and became very popular during the Renaissance when master gem-engravers worked for prominent collectors such as Lorenzo de’ Medici. Thereafter, with intervening periods of more or less fashionability, cameos have been made and mounted in articles of jewelry, e.g. brooches, pendants, and especially finger rings.
The leading artist of the 19th century was Tommaso Saulini. In later periods cameos were also carved in other hard materials, e.g. rock crystal, coral, jet, shell, etc., and also moulded of jasper earthenware in two or more colours by Josiah Wedgwood, or of glass paste by James Tassie. Some were copies of classical subjects and coins, but from the Renaissance period new motifs were introduced. Some were made in chalcedony with either the portrait or the background painted with gold.
Two weeks ago we were lucky being offered an impressive private collection of antique jewelry. The person who brought it to us inherited it from his parents, antique jewelry dealers who retired some 30 years ago, and he wanted to find a good home for it. We felt honoured that he came to us and were amazed by the quality of this collection. One could see the love these people had for antique jewelry.
Among the many high quality pieces we got was one truly amazing cameo. It took us many hours to determine where the cameo came from and what it depicted and the result is amazing.
If you want to find out about this cameo just click the picture.