A cameo is a form of glyptography, or bas-relief carving, most often cut into glass, hard-stones, and shells. Artworks were crafted to create two layers on one piece of material, the top of which protruded from its background, creating a multi-dimensional artwork. These detailed reliefs were often used to adorn pieces of jewelry, including brooches, necklaces, bracelets and rings. The earliest cameos took inspiration from prehistoric petroglyphs, which documented important religious and symbolic iconography onto rock faces.
Despite its popularity in previous periods, the most well-known era for cameo collection was the 19th century, inspired by royal cameo collectors Queen Victoria and Emperor Napoleon Buonaparte. Shelled cameos, which depicted these natural and humanistic scenes onto deep-sea shells, became quite popular under Queen Victoria’s reign. Similarly, Napoleon himself founded a Parisian apprentice school to foster the talents of young cameo carvers.
This large oval cameo brooch depicts a kneeling angel, praying with a strung necklace in his hands, possibly intended as a religious medallion. Praying before a decorated grave, he has the serene expression as well as the styling of a classically rendered angel. Fitted with a hidden bale, it can also be worn as a pendant. An interesting piece that spans two categories of antique jewelry collectibles: mourning and cameo, it's a great find for any historic jewelry lover!
Dimensions: 1 1/2"
Weight: 13.4 grams
Materials: Gold Filled metal, carved shell cameo
Condition: Excellent antique condition commensurate with age and wear