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 Bonaparte. 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.
Beautifully set in lacy sterling silver, this cameo depicts the profile of a Centurian soldier. The incredible detail is apparent in the skillfully carved features and headgear of the subject. Rather androgenous, it could be representing a Roman goddess, such as Athena. A great piece that doubles as a pendant and one that any cameo collector would treasure!
Weight: 7.4 grams
Materials: Silver, Carved Shell Cameo
Condition: Excellent Antique condition commensurate with age and wear