Motherly Love

Antique shell cameo with Raphael's Madonna della Seggiola, Italy circa 1850

The "Madonna della Seggiola" or "Madonna in the Armchair" is a famous painting by Raphael, which is now kept in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Painted around 1514, it is considered one of the masterpieces of the Urbino painter. The round painting shows Mary with the infant Jesus. The masterful depiction of motherly love was copied hundreds of times, especially at the beginning of the 19th century in the wake of Raphael's enthusiasm. Ingres, Napoleon's court painter, for instance, inserted it into numerous of his paintings as a quotation, sometimes quite prominently in the background of the picture, then again hidden as in Napoleon's great throne painting of 1806, where it is woven into the carpet under the ruler as a sign of his caring for the fatherland. The cameo brooch here also shows Raphael's Madonna. The cameo was carved in great detail in shell by an Italian artist in the years around 1850. Especially the region around the Bay of Naples was the centre of the art of cameo cutting and their works were famous for their extraordinary quality. The composition and the intimate relationship between Mary and Jesus are beautifully rendered and shine in the warm tone of the shell. The cameo was probably acquired by an English traveller to Italy, who visited the country on a so-called Grand Tour. The classical educational trip was a fixed part for all members of the Victorian upper class. A special highlight was always the visit to the city of Florence. There at the birthplace of the Renaissance, the world-famous collections such as the Uffizi were studied and the works of art left a lasting impression. Souvenirs from the sunny south were indispensable souvenirs and told those at home of the humanistic education of their bearers. It was only in England that the cameo with Raphael's Madonna was given an elaborate setting of gilded pinchbeck and made wearable as a brooch. This brooch is a special piece with its own cultural-historical history, which is not only historically interesting, but also touches the heart of every observer today - and which says a lot about its wearer.

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.