Dating from the mid-nineteenth century, this exquisite hand-carved shell cameo brooch depicts the eagle of Zeus (or Zeus in the guise of an eagle) drinking nectar from a bowl being held by Hebe, daughter of Zeus and goddess of youth in Greek mythology, in her role as cupbearer to the gods. The carving is full of intricate detail, from the individual feathers on the eagle's body and wings and Hebe's tender, expressive face to her long curling tresses and the drapery slipping from her shoulders. It is a beautifully balanced composition set amidst the clouds of Olympus. The cameo is signed on the back, but the signature is not sufficiently clear for me to hazard a guess.
Framing the cameo is a sumptuous gold mount, unmarked but testing as solid 15 carat gold, decorated with engraved scrolls at the cardinal points. The brooch fastens on the reverse with a strong pin and neatly replaced locking clasp, both working securely. Condition is very good with minor signs of wear and a few fine surface scratches typical for the age. The overall dimensions of this gorgeous piece are 45mm x 40mm (1 3/4" x 1 1/2") approx. The cameo itself measures 33mm x 28mm (1 5/16" x 1 1/8") approx.
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