Art and nature

Antique art nouveau brooch with gem of Psyche in gold, around 1900

In the Metamorphoses of Ovid, the story of Cupid and Psyche plays a central role. It is about the mortal daughter of the king, Psyche, who is so beautiful that even Venus is enraged with envy. In her rage, the goddess orders her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with a terrible man with one of his love arrows. But the young god of love takes pity on her, for he himself falls in love with her. So he carries Psyche off to a palace, where he comes to visit her only in the dead of night, on condition that she never sees him or searches for him. Like many of those stories, this one takes a tragic turn, but ends in Psyche's admission to Olympus, where she finally finds happiness with Cupid at her side. The story of the two lovers has always inspired art, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, when artists such as Bouguereau or sculptors such as Canova and Reinhold Begas depicted various scenes. Here, Psyche is identified by her attribute, the butterfly wings, because her name in the Greek language not only stands for the soul, but also denotes the butterfly. In fine detail, the beautiful daughter of the king has been cut here in striped agate. In doing so, the executing gem cutter skilfully used the layers of the stone to lend plasticity to his depiction. Psyche stands out white against the veined ground; but the butterfly wings at her temple have again been cut into another layer of the stone, so that they appear finely patterned. The choice of striped agate is unusual and rare, but it fits in perfectly with the artistic aspirations of Art Nouveau to be guided by the creative power of nature. The setting speaks the characteristic formal language of the years around 1900 and was executed in high-carat gold, which has a velvety shimmer thanks to an additional fine gilding. Dynamic lines frame the gem at the sides and bottom, but at the top it is crowned by a golden bouquet of fragrant rose petals, in the center of which is set an old-cut diamond. The beautiful brooch is very well preserved and an exemplary piece of jewelry from one of the most collectible eras in jewelry history.

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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.

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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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