Dating to c.1650 for the carved boxwood cameo and c.1850 for the 15k gold "T and C" clasp, this large cameo brooch is proof that some marriages were made in Heaven!
Measuring a grand 2 3/4" long x 1 7/8" wide x just over 1/2" thick, this one-of-a-kind brooch was crafted by a clever mid 19th-century lapidary; it began its very long life as the lid to a mid-17th century snuffbox! Carved from boxwood, perhaps the most popular wood in Europe for carving ornamental objets de virtu during the 1600s, this cameo boasts a very Baroque depiction of the goddess Venus surrounded by a retinue of musical cherubs! Venus sits atop a rock with her symbolic scallop shell below. Her hair is dressed in high 1650s fashion, her breasts are bared, and her waist clothed in the drapery of antiquity. She holds one small cupid on her lap, which holds the hands of an elder cherub. To her right, a cupid plays a lyre, and a second cherub plays a harp. Above, a fifth cherub hovers over Venus as she holds one arm out in supplication to the sun at the upper left. The sun even has a small human face at its center! How outstanding is THAT??
What is even more fabulous is the high relief with which the figures have been carved; all of them are deeply undercut to show the three-dimensional figures to the best effect, and the details are nothing short of incredible! Likely carved c. 1650 by a Northern European artist, this snuffbox would have been a masterpiece in miniature, and it is no wonder that a descendant of the original owner wanted to preserve this cameo and show it off two centuries after it was carved! The carving has a folky flavor, but is so intricately-carved, and packed with so many figures; the workmanship is far finer than cameos of the Victorian era. It was clearly carved by a skilled artist. It is nothing short of a miracle that none of the figures are broken off or repaired! No doubt the bottom of the snuffbox met with an accident over the generations, but it is clear that this cameo top was far too precious to discard, and the conversion to the brooch you see here has ensured its survival for centuries to come!
Perhaps best of all, this cameo has survived over 350 years in as fine a condition as the most discerning collector could hope for! There are a couple of small age splits at the 6:30 and 5:30 position, but this is natural in a wood carving that has survived intact for over three and a half centuries, and do not penetrate to the other side. The surface of the cameo boasts a luscious patina which only the passing of ten generations can impart, and the result is a fascinating and tactile jewel which is oh-so-wearable today!
Simply a breath-taking example of Stuart-era cameo carving, this brooch truly deserves to be worn and displayed! Weighing in at 24.85 grams, this boxwood beauty looks splendid worn on a lapel, collar or sweater, and is certain to be an object of envy! If you collect the best in early cameos, this Baroque beauty belongs in your collection! It would also make a grand gift for anyone fascinated with early cameos, and will be shipped in a gift box. This is the sort of rare brooch which I would love to keep for my own collection, but one cannot keep it all and pay the bills, so let my loss be your gain! Up to 45-day layaway is 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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