What to do, said Zeus
Expressive gem in gold setting as brooch: Zeus, father of the gods, 1860s
"Cover your sky, Zeus, With cloudy mist And practice, like the boy Who beheads thistles On oaks and mountain heights!" As Goethe's "Prometheus" demonstrates, the 19th century was obsessed with motifs from classical antiquity, which ran through almost all genres of the arts. In addition to architectural motifs of antiquity in architecture, ancient legends were the subject of many literary creations of the time, and the yearning for antiquity was also reflected in the field of jewellery. Thus, in this shell gem from around 1860, we see the profile portrait of Zeus, the most powerful of all the gods of Olympus. His face is classically beautiful, with a Greek profile, and full of youthful masculine charm. The leonine hair flows richly around his head; his curls are finely rendered and detailed. A wreath of laurel adorns the divine head. Particularly beautiful here is also the clear separation between the white of the portrait and the darker ground of the shell. The probably Neapolitan gem engraver of the 1860s obviously oriented himself in the depiction of the father of the gods on an antique model, as they were found in large numbers in the famous antique collections of the city. The setting of the shell, which makes it wearable as a brooch, is forged from reddish gold and is simply crafted. A beautiful piece of 19th century jewellery with an obvious reference to antiquity!
Shells with mythological motifs were created especially in the 19th century in Italy for travellers on a Grand Tour. This so-called cavalier tour, which was supposed to perfect the education of the travellers, led to the antique buildings, to the art collections of Rome and Naples and the early tourists brought small souvenirs from their journey across the Alps, which were supposed to tell of the experiences of the Italian journey.
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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.
If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.