Ergo bibamus

Antique brooch with conch cameo of a bacchante in gold setting, around 1860

Impressive in its exceptional cut and lifelike three-dimensionality, the present cameo dates from the 1960s. Held by a florally engraved setting of 14-karat gold, the brooch shows a relief of conch shell. "Conch" here is the name for the large fencer snail (Strombus Gigas), whose habitat is the crystal clear, tropical seas of the Caribbean. The shells of the sea snails are characterized by a wonderful pale pink color and are particularly suitable for cutting high-quality gems. The oval cameo shows a beautiful young lady with flowing hair. She wears a rich jewellery of vine leaves and grapes in her hair. Around her shoulders she has wrapped the fur of a panther, whose head looks grimly at us. The sitter is thus a bacchante. Like her Greek counterpart, the Maenad, she was a follower of the wine god Bacchus (Dionysus), who was famous and infamous for his lavish parties, the so-called "Bacchanalia". The image of the Bacchante in the history of Western art is strongly influenced by the form that the cult, which was originally Greek, took on with the Romans. The Roman Bacchanalia probably originated from spring festivals. At the beginning of the 2nd century B.C. the cult celebrations developed into excessive feasts, which were accompanied by dances and orgies and which took place in secret. In later centuries, bacchants became synonymous with celebrating fun-loving people, but especially with lovers of good wine. The wonderfully preserved piece of jewellery was created in the years around 1860, only a few years before conch bowls reached Europe for the first time. The cameo presented here is thus an early example of this new, highly prized and precious material, which quickly became widespread, especially for gem jewellery, cf. also David Bennett/Daniela Mascetti: Understanding Jewellery, London 2010, p. 122 as well as p. 148f.

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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.