Dragonslayer

Large gem brooch with miniature painting in gold, around 1870

To possess antique cameos and gems was the claim of almost all great collections for centuries: We find spectacular pieces as well in the Green Vault in Dresden, in the treasury of Rudolf II, up to the great private collections like that of Baron Stosch in later times. The 18th and 19th centuries produced numerous large imprint collections of ancient sealstones and gems, which represent the ancient imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety. Gem jewellery was particularly popular in Victorian England. The brooch presented here dates from this period and is surprising for its rare motif: instead of the often common portrait of a lady or depiction of an ancient deity, the Christian knight George is shown here on horseback, fighting the dragon. The dragon-slayer motif appears in almost all religions and cultural circles of the earth as a symbol of the struggle of the powers of light with the powers of darkness. In the Christian world, George and Michael are the two great dragon slayers; George, as a Christian knight, became the patron saint of England and many cities throughout Europe. An elaborate setting of yellow gold securely holds the sculpted shell gem of the years around 1870, making it a brooch. But the gem has a little secret! Built into the back of the cameo is a medallion that has preserved a miniature in which we see an English gentleman. A few flakes of paint from his skirt have come loose, revealing that there is a photograph hidden beneath the painting. Especially in the early days of photography the pictures were often blurred and above all yes black and white - obviously here someone had the portrait of an ancestor reworked in a painterly way. The clou of the piece: miniature and cameo are embedded in a so-called "swivel mount", so that the two representations can be rotated in the framing. Thus the distinguished gentleman or George the dragon slayer can be presented in the brooch. The setting itself is elaborately designed with leaf and vine work and is made of gold. The rare piece of jewellery has been preserved in its original casket.

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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.

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.


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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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