Rousing feasts, wild revelry

Antique brooch with the shell of a bacchante gold, around 1880

A beautiful young lady with flowing hair is shown in profile. She wears a rich ornament of vine leaves and grapes in her hair. Around her hips she has the fur of a panther slung, over her shoulder she carries a so-called thyrsos staff with pine cones and in her hand she holds a chalice. 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 festivities, 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. Our shell gem, created in the years around 1880, shows one of these bacchantes in her enchanting beauty. A setting of gold makes it a brooch. Thus, this piece of jewellery is particularly suitable to be a gift for a lady who is not averse to the pleasures of life.

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 should perfect the education of the travellers here, led to the antique buildings, into the art collections of Rome and Naples and the early tourists brought small souvenirs from their journey over the Alps, which should tell of the experiences of the Italian journey.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


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.