Finely carved Victorian shell cameo of Hera, queen of the Olympian gods and wife of Zeus in Greek mythology (the Roman deities Juno and Jupiter). The cameo dates from around 1880 and is mounted in 9 carat rose gold (faintly stamped on the back) for wear as either a brooch or a pendant.
Hera is depicted in profile wearing a diadem and small veil draped over the back of her head. Hera was goddess of marriage, the family and of children - an ironic role in light of her husband’s numerous infidelities and the resulting offspring. Hera was beautiful but sadly it was her jealousy and vindictiveness which overshadowed other qualities. This regal portrait, inspired by classical antiquity, combines delicate facial details and wonderfully intricate curls with the more restrained, simple lines of her diadem, veil and elegant neck.
The brooch fastens with a hinged pin and ‘c’ clasp, the large pendant bail folding down when not in use. Please note the back of the gold mount on the hinge side has pulled away slightly from the bezel (see photo 4) and ideally needs attention from a jeweller. Otherwise condition is good for the age with minor wear, tiny surface chip to top edge of cameo and slight abrasion to bottom edge of bezel, surface scratches, a couple of small dark marks to the gold and one fine line in the cameo seen when held to light. Although I haven’t been able to capture it in a photo, the cameo is faintly signed ‘Stanley’ on the back, which may well be the carver's name, along with clearer lower case letters ‘at’ scratched beneath the signature.
The oval mount measures 42mm x 33mm (1 5/8” x 1 5/16”). Including the generous bail it measures about 51mm (2”) tall.
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