Sit down, little butterfly!
Large art nouveau shell cameo of Psyche as brooch/pendant, Italy circa 1900
A beautiful young lady looks to the right: rich and full, her hair curls over her forehead, head and neck, barely tamed by a strand of pearls. She wears a lascivious robe and to everyone's surprise a small butterfly has settled on her shoulder. Thus she leads us into the realm of Greek mythology. Depicted is Psyche, an ancient king's daughter whose beauty was so great and famous that it aroused the jealousy of the goddess Venus. After some intrigue, she eventually married Cupid, Venus' messenger of love, and became an immortal goddess. The butterfly as a symbol of the soul is her attribute and so she found her way into art. This brooch, which can also be worn as a pendant thanks to a loop, encloses the exquisitely and finely cut portrait of Psyche with a framing of 14-karat gold. The masterly cut of the shell cameo is matched by the beautiful craftsmanship of the frame. The cameo, presumably cut in Italy and subsequently set in gold, was created in the years around 1900. As a particularly beautiful testimony to the perception of the contemporary, distinguished world in Italy, it is not only a wonderful collector's item, but at the same time also a wonderful and first-class executed cameo, whose fine and sensitive depiction is directly touching, entirely in the spirit of Art Nouveau.
For centuries, the possession of cameos and gems was the claim of almost all great collections of decorative arts and chambers of curiosities, from the Green Vault in Dresden and the treasury of Rudolf II to large private collections such as that of Baron von Stosch in later times. The 18th and 19th centuries produced numerous large imprint collections of antique seal stones and gems, which were able to represent the antique imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety, as they were also an expression of a humanistic education. However, the art of gem-cutting has survived to this day in Italy, especially in the Bay of Naples, where it has been handed down from generation to generation. Today the Scuola dei Cammei in Torre del Greco is the only large-scale training centre for gem-cutters in Italy. Of particular importance for the transmission of stone and shell carving north of the Alps have always been travellers to Italy, who brought home impressions and cut stones as well as engraved shells from their educational journeys to enjoy.
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.