Faithful despite separation

Antique shell gem in gold with the homecoming of Odysseus, around 1850

When, after twenty years of war and wandering, Odysseus is finally able to return to his wife, home, child and dog, he finds his house full of strangers. No one recognizes him, the king of Ithaca, and Penelope, his wife, is beset by suitors. However, thanks to the assistance of Athena, he is able to quickly defeat the suitors in battle. He shoots them all with arrows, the unfaithful maids as well, and thus restores domestic peace. The large and richly detailed cut shell gem depicts the homecoming of Odysseus. Penelope, her sign queen of Ithaca, lies in the center of the picture in her palace. A servant pours oil into a smoke offering. She greets Odysseus, who has entered from the left, with a cup full of wine. It is not quite clear whether she really does not recognise her husband or whether she is just not letting on in order to protect him, for the palace is still full of enemies and Odysseus, on Athena's advice, is disguised as a beggar. Yet this is precisely a display of Penelope's virtue: she is hospitable, yet she remains aloof and does not give herself over to suitors. Only later in the story will she recognize Odysseus and the years of hoping for her husband will come to an end: her loyalty will be rewarded. The shell-gem is set in an elaborate framing of gold, which wraps itself around the scene in waves and with embossed vine motifs. The design of the framing reveals that the piece was made in the middle of the 19th century. The brooch is in very good condition and is a beautiful display of the ideal of loyalty.

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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.