Webster's Dictionary defines a "masterpiece" as "a work done with extraordinary skill or artistic achievement." I have been fortunate enough lately to acquire several jewels which meet this criteria, and I am proud to present the "Masterpiece collection" for the consideration of my Ruby Lane clientele!
Dating to c.1870-1880 for the cameo and c.1910 for the substantial 14k gold mounting, this jewel is the first of several Masterpiece cameos which I will be listing in the coming weeks! All of these cameos belonged to the same dedicated collector who is now selling off her 50-year collection, and ALL of her pieces are museum-worthy! This is the first of the cameos, and the subject could not be more intimate or charming!
Measuring 1 3/4" tall with its fold-down bail x 1 1/8" wide x 1/2" thick, this cameo is carved from black and white agate, and depicts the portrait of a beautiful teenage girl of perhaps 16 years of age. During the Victorian era, wealthy families taking the Grand Tour of Europe would often stop in Rome or Florence and sit for these portraits, and to discover a hardstone example as lovely as this is like finding a needle in a whole field of haystacks!
This wealthy young woman would have certainly been the apple of her parents' eye, for these portraits were very expensive to commission. She is exquisitely carved in high relief, and displays such attention to detail that I am surprised that the cameo is not signed! The sitter wears her hair in a classic style of the early 1870s, with the sides pulled up into a high chignon tied with a ribbon, and a waterfall of wavy curls behind. Our sitter's bodice with its open collar is ornamented with two book chains and a locket necklace, and she wears drop earrings. The expression on the young lady's face is just lovely, and her profile is undercut for even more detail and dimension! This image is so perfectly-rendered that it appears almost photographic! SO IMPRESSIVE!
Best of all, this cameo has made it into the 21st century in PERFECT condition, without rubbing, chips, cracks or any sign of wear! She was set into the 14k brooch you see here c.1910, which is also in mint condition and features a fold-down bail so this lovely young lady can be worn as a brooch or a pendant! Please note; this is NOT an assembled cameo; it is all carved from one piece of agate!
Weighing in at 22.49 grams, this cameo looks magnificent worn on a gold chain or on a black ribbon around the neck, and it will light up any lapel! They simply don't come much better than this! If you collect the ultimate in Victorian cameo jewelry, this jewel belongs in your collection! It would also make a stellar gift for any lady fond of the best in investment-worthy cameos, and will be shipped in a gift box suitable for giving or storing. Do not miss this one-of-a-kind portrait jewel; up to 60-day layaways available, and USPS Priority mail shipping is FREE!
Your Specialists in Fine Jewelry and Decorative Arts from Antiquity - 1900. Est. 1987.
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