Ancient psychology

Graceful shell cameo of Psyche, brooch/pendant, Italy & USA c.1950

A beautiful young lady looks to the right: her hair curls richly over her forehead, head and neck, barely tamed by a ribbon and a wreath of blossoms. She wears a lascivious robe and to everyone's surprise a butterfly has settled on her shoulder. Thus, she leads us into the realm of Greek mythology. Depicted is Psyche, an ancient king's daughter whose beauty was so great and famous that it aroused the jealousy of the goddess Venus. After some intrigue, she finally married Cupid, Venus' messenger of love, and became an immortal goddess. The butterfly as a symbol of the soul is her attribute and so she found her way into art. The brooch here, which can also be worn as a pendant thanks to a retractable eylet, encloses the exquisitely and finely cut portrait of Psyche with a framing of 14-karat gold. The detailed cut of the shell cameo is juxtaposed with a simple frame of gold. The cameo, probably cut in Italy and subsequently set in gold in the USA, was created in the years around 1950. As a particularly beautiful testimony to the cameo art, it is not only a wonderful collector's item, but at the same time a wonderful and first-class executed cameo, whose fine and sensitive representation is immediately touching.

For centuries, the possession of cameos and gems was the claim of almost all great collections of decorative arts and chambers of curiosities, from the Green Vault in Dresden to the treasury of Rudolf II to large private collections such as that of Baron von Stosch in later times. The 18th and 19th centuries produced numerous large imprint collections of antique seal stones and cameos, which were able to represent the antique imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety, as they were also an expression of a humanistic education. However, the art of cameo cutter has been preserved until today in Italy, especially in the Bay of Naples, where it has been handed down from generation to generation. Today, the Scuola dei Cammei in Torre del Greco is the only large-scale training center for cameo cutters in Italy. Of particular importance for the transmission of stone and shell carving north of the Alps have always been travelers to Italy, who brought home impressions and cut stones as well as engraved shells from their educational trips to enjoy.

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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.

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