Painter prince in lava

Sculptural Lava-Gemme of Salvator Rosa as pendant, Naples circa 1860

Naples was the largest city in Italy during the Baroque era. More inhabitants than in Rome crowded into the narrow streets at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. The metropolis was the capital of its own kingdom and, along with Rome and Venice, also a capital of culture. Countless palaces and churches crowd the narrow area of the old town and especially painting enjoyed a blossom that radiated throughout Europe. One of the most famous painters of the epoch was Salvator Rosa, born in July 1615 Arenella near Naples, died on March 15, 1673 in Rome. This child of the city at the Vesuvius is known until today especially for his landscape paintings. With towering masses of rock, strong, jagged tree trunks, storm clouds, or striking lights, he achieves a sometimes surreal effect, overdramatized and unreal, entirely in the spirit of the Baroque. Not surprisingly, his paintings are populated with bandits, soldiers and witches, who add to the unreal or threatening mood. Although Rosa worked in Rome and Florence in later years, he was always considered a Neapolitan. And in keeping with this, we see him here, in the large cameo here, carved in lava. His curly hair and the characteristic long baroque beard are reproduced in great detail. The model was certainly an engraving like the one shown here after Rosa's self-portrait, which is kept in the Uffizi. The multicoloured lava of Vesuvius has been a popular material for jewellery since the 18th century: The high-end gem-cutting culture in the Bay of Naples used this natural product, along with shells and coral, to create popular souvenirs first for Grand Tour travelers and later for tourists from all over Europe. The fact that a child of the region is depicted here in lava does not lack a certain consistency. The profile portrait, which was probably cut in the Bay of Naples in the years around 1860, is set in silver. We bought the gemstones unmounted and our goldsmith set them in the style of their time of origin in a simple and restrained manner. The portrait cut in lava is thus once again wearable and a piece of jewellery that combines artistic sensibility with the joy of first-class craftsmanship of the previous century.

Every traveller of the Grand Tour reached Naples sooner or later on his journey through Italy. The dream destination of the mostly young men in the years around 1800 overwhelmed with its location on the Gold, the spectacular view of Mount Vesuvius, the gentle climate, its rugged yet enchanting cityscape and - last but not least - its rich, immortal art treasures of antiquity. From the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, which perished in the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, so many spectacular art treasures had already been brought to Naples in the 18th century that the museums here enjoyed world fame. Visiting them was a must in the city. And of course no one missed out on a visit to Pompeii itself with its macabre charm. No wonder, then, that souvenirs of this trip were not to be missed: a local art industry emerged, producing especially top-quality gems from coral, shells and coloured local stone varieties, which were sold as "lava" from the volcano. Objects made of this material were particularly appreciated by travellers. We can easily reimagine their fascination: To hold here in our hands a piece of the mountain that had brought such a grisly end to the life of the Ancient World - but had also made possible its preservation for later generations! What better souvenir could be imagined?

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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.