Cameo brooch

Cameo: Italy
setting: Vienna, 2nd half 19th century
Lavastone set in gold, height 4.5 cm, width 3.5 cm
Inv. 1970.183.

2463px x 2748px
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Cameo jewellery, usually made from large seashells with banded layers of different colours, is still a popular souvenir from Naples. From 1830 cameos were carved by Italians in London and Paris and those made with a view to the World Exhibition were particularly extravagantly designed. The same technique of carving in high relief was also used on sardonyx, coloured agate, black and white onyx, malachite, tortoiseshell, coral and ivory. Cameos cut from the lava of Vesuvius are less well known. Typically they were sold as souvenirs in Pompeii and Naples. Pieces of good quality often feature subject matter from antiquity shown in high relief, as in this detailed and highly finished brooch. The portrait may represent a helmeted goddess or Omphale, the Queen of Lydia from the legend of Hercules, since a lion is lying next to the plume on her helmet.

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