Wednesday, June 28, 2006


“At this instant, the surplus-like napkin dropped from the clergyman’s bosom, showing a minute but exquisitely cut cameo brooch, representing the allegorical union of the serpent and dove. It had been the gift of an appreciative friend, and was sometimes worn on secular occasions like the present” – Herman Melville, 1852

Like silhouettes, cameos are an outgrowth of the neoclassical revival. Inspired by antiquity recovered from archaeological excavations, artists enthusiastically copied ancient examples from museum collections. Hence, cameos often represent Greek gods and goddesses, personifications of nature, and classical allegories. Additionally, many portrait miniaturists also offered likenesses in cameo. The simple profile lines of portrait cameos allowed for physiognomic readings of the sitter, and cameos were sometimes personalized with the addition of a loved one’s hair.

Richard Cockle Lucas (English 1800 - 1883) Profile Cameo of English Gentleman, c. 1820. Price: $1200

John Nicholson of Dorking, "Cameo engraver in Ordinary to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and H.R.H. The Duchess of Kent" Family cameo portrait c. 1845. Nicholson exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1848 and 1850 and likewise contributed to the Art Manufactures Exhibit of the Society of Arts organized by Henry Cole in 1848. Price: $1800

Constantin Roesler Franz (attributed), c. 1850, flower bouquet cameo with C-clasp and T-bar.

Mid nineteenth century revolving brooch with a cameo represents the personification of spring bearing blossoms. Revolving brooches allow for either side to be rotated to the forward facing position. Price: $850

Curls of human hair adorn the reverse of the cameo sculpted on translucent milk glass backed with embossed gold foil.

Mid nineteenth century revolving brooch with a cameo representing Hebe, the goddess of youth, and her father, Zeus, transfigured as an eagle. Hebe and Zeus was a popular subject for cameo artists. Price: $500

On the reverse of the cameo, there are two locks of hair on fabric.

Neoclassical inspired brooch, later converted to a pendent, with nine tiny lava cameos, tassel, and large basket weave hairwork on the reverse.


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