Large pendant brooch with the shell cameo of a bacchante, around 1870

Ennivrez-Vous - Intoxicate yourself, for one must always be drunk, whether on wine, poetry or virtue. These are the famous words of Baudelaire, published posthumously in 1869 in the poetry collection Le Spleen de Paris. They were to become the watchwords for a whole generation of writers of the decadence movement. Around the same time that the poem was published, the present jewel was made. It shows a Bacchante or Maenad, a follower of the wine god Bacchus or Dionysus. She is recognizable by the attributes surrounding her, the ram's head on her chest and the vine leaves in her hair. The name Maenad is derived from "mania", frenzy, because wild revelry and orgies were celebrated in the god's entourage. Thus, Bacchus was also considered the god of intoxication. Represented in profile, the Bacchante turns her face to the right. Her garment, an antique peblos with a ram's head as a brooch, is lovingly worked out. Particularly beautiful here is also the clear separation between the tinted white of the portrait and the soft, darker ground of the shell. A simple setting of rose gold makes the cameo wearable as a brooch and pendant. As a classic piece of jewellery, it was also wearable in the 19th century, transporting an interest in the culture of antiquity and an accompanying higher education, despite its subversive motif.

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.