A fantastic Museum Quality cameo depicting Dante Alighieri, the Supreme Poet who "invented" the Italian Language. I have seen many cameo depicting Dante but none was like this one. This is a true work of art. The face of Dante is so finely carved that he seems just real. He's frowned just like he's portrayed in many paintings and sculptures. His face is excavated, you can see his cheekbone and the deep wrinkle on his nose side, wrinkles can be seen also close to his eye. His expression is pensive. He wears a simple tunic and the classic Middle Age Florentine hat, his head is crowned by a laurel garland, symbol of poets. Laurel leaves are lightly colored in the right areas as the carver used the color of the shell to give them light. This cameo is an absolute beauty, perfectly carved by a true artist. The ornate gold frame completes this cameo and makes it unique. A fantastic cameos to not to be missed.
A bit of history: Durante degli Alighieri, most commonly referred to as Dante (c. 1265–1321), was a major Italian poet of the Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Commedia and later called Divina by Boccaccio, is widely considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language and a masterpiece of world literature. In Italy he is known as il Sommo Poeta ("the Supreme Poet") or just il Poeta. Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also known as "the three fountains" or "the three crowns". Dante is also called the "Father of the Italian language". Dante was born in Florence, Italy. The exact date of Dante's birth is unknown, although it is generally believed to be around 1265. This can be deduced from autobiographic allusions in La Divina Commedia. Its first section, the Inferno, begins "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita" ("Halfway through the journey we are living"), implying that Dante was around 35 years old, as the average lifespan according to the Bible (Psalms 89:10, Vulgate) is 70 years; and as the imaginary travel took place in 1300, Dante must have been born around 1265. Some verses of the Paradiso section of the Divine Comedy also provide a possible clue that he was born under the sign of Gemini: "As I revolved with the eternal twins, I saw revealed from hills to river outlets, the threshing-floor that makes us so ferocious" (XXII 151-154). In 1265 the Sun was in Gemini approximately during the period of May 11 to June 11. Not much is known about Dante's education, and it is presumed he studied at home or in a chapter school attached to a church or monastery in Florence. It is known that he studied Tuscan poetry, at a time when the Sicilian School (Scuola poetica Siciliana), a cultural group from Sicily, was becoming known in Tuscany. His interests brought him to discover the Provençal poetry of the troubadours and the Latin writers of classical antiquity, including Cicero, Ovid, and especially Virgil. Dante says that he first met Beatrice Portinari, daughter of Folco Portinari, at age nine, and he claims to have fallen in love "at first sight", apparently without even speaking to her. He saw her frequently after age 18, often exchanging greetings in the street, but he never knew her well; in effect, he set an example of so-called courtly love, a phenomenon developed in French and Provençal poetry of the preceding centuries. Dante's experience of such love was typical, but his expression of it was unique. It was in the name of this love that Dante gave his imprint to the Dolce Stil Novo (Sweet New Style, a term which Dante himself coined), and he would join other contemporary poets and writers in exploring the themes of Love (Amore), which had never been so emphasized before. Love for Beatrice (as in a different manner Petrarch would show for his Laura) would be his reason for poetry and for living, together with political passions. In many of his poems, she is depicted as semi-divine, watching over him constantly and providing spiritual instruction, sometimes harshly. When Beatrice died in 1290, Dante sought refuge in Latin literature. The Convivio reveals that he had read Boethius's De consolatione philosophiae and Cicero's De Amicitia. He then dedicated himself to philosophical studies at religious schools like the Dominican one in Santa Maria Novella. He took part in the disputes that the two principal mendicant orders (Franciscan and Dominican) publicly or indirectly held in Florence, the former explaining the doctrine of the mystics and of Saint Bonaventure, the latter presenting Saint Thomas Aquinas' theories. At 18, Dante met Guido Cavalcanti, Lapo Gianni, Cino da Pistoia and soon after Brunetto Latini; together they became the leaders of the Dolce Stil Novo. Brunetto later received a special mention in the Divine Comedy (Inferno, XV, 28), for what he had taught Dante. Nor speaking less on that account, I go With Ser Brunetto, and I ask who are His most known and most eminent companions. Some fifty poetical components by Dante are known (the so-called Rime, rhymes), others being included in the later Vita Nuova and Convivio. Other studies are reported, or deduced from Vita Nuova or the Comedy, regarding painting and music. The Divine Comedy describes Dante's journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, the subject of his love and of another of his works, La Vita Nuova. While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate. Purgatorio, the most lyrical and human of the three, also has the most poets in it; Paradiso, the most heavily theological, has the most beautiful and ecstatic mystic passages in which Dante tries to describe what he confesses he is unable to convey (e.g., when Dante looks into the face of God: "all'alta fantasia qui mancò possa"—"at this high moment, ability failed my capacity to describe," Paradiso, XXXIII, 142). By its serious purpose, its literary stature and the range—both stylistically and in subject matter—of its content, the Comedy soon became a cornerstone in the evolution of Italian as an established literary language. Dante was more aware than most earlier Italian writers of the variety of Italian dialects and of the need to create a literature beyond the limits of Latin writing at the time, and a unified literary language; in that sense he is a forerunner of the renaissance with its effort to create vernacular literature in competition with earlier classical writers. Dante's in-depth knowledge (within the realms of the time) of Roman antiquity and his evident admiration for some aspects of pagan Rome also point forward to the 15th century. Ironically, while he was widely honoured in the centuries after his death, the Comedy slipped out of fashion among men of letters: too medieval, too rough and tragical and not stylistically refined in the respects that the high and late renaissance came to demand of literature.
He wrote the Comedy in a language he called "Italian", in some sense an amalgamated literary language mostly based on the regional dialect of Tuscany, with some elements of Latin and of the other regional dialects. The aim was to deliberately reach a readership throughout Italy, both laymen, clergymen and other poets. By creating a poem of epic structure and philosophic purpose, he established that the Italian language was suitable for the highest sort of expression. In French, Italian is sometimes nicknamed la langue de Dante. Publishing in the vernacular language marked Dante as one of the first (among others such as Geoffrey Chaucer and Giovanni Boccaccio) to break free from standards of publishing in only Latin (the language of liturgy, history, and scholarship in general, but often also of lyric poetry). This break set a precedent and allowed more literature to be published for a wider audience—setting the stage for greater levels of literacy in the future. However, unlike Boccaccio, Milton or Ariosto, Dante did not really become an author read all over Europe until the romantic era. To the romantics, Dante, like Homer and Shakespeare, was a prime example of the "original genius" who sets his own rules, creates persons of overpowering stature and depth and goes far beyond any imitation of the patterns of earlier masters and who, in turn, cannot really be imitated. Throughout the 19th century, Dante's reputation grew and solidified, and by the time of the 1865 jubilee, he had become solidly established as one of the greatest literary icons of the Western world. Readers often cannot understand how such a serious work may be called a "comedy". In Dante's time, all serious scholarly works were written in Latin (a tradition that would persist for several hundred years more, until the waning years of the Enlightenment) and works written in any other language were assumed to be more trivial in nature. Furthermore, the word "comedy" in the classical sense refers to works which reflect belief in an ordered universe, in which events not only tended towards a happy or "amusing" ending, but an ending influenced by a Providential will that orders all things to an ultimate good. By this meaning of the word, as Dante himself wrote in a letter to Cangrande I della Scala, the progression of the pilgrimage from Hell to Paradise is the paradigmatic expression of comedy, since the work begins with the pilgrim's moral confusion and ends with the vision of God.
Material: Sardonyx Shell, 9k gold tested. Size: 2 1/2" by 2 2/8" only cameo is 1 7/8" by 1 1/2". Date and Origin: Circa 1860/1870 Italy. Conditions: Immaculate, two slightest internal lines, barely visible when cameo is backlit, not visible from the front or the back when looking at the cameo by naked eye. Two letter scratched on the back "t. t." and a number "89".
Item ID: 188
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