Zeus and Amalthea

Large enamel pendant in Holbein style with diamonds, pearls & emeralds, Italy circa 2000

Long before our time, the Titan Chronos ruled the world. The god was jealous and feared that his own offspring might one day push him from his throne. Therefore, he devoured each of the children born of his wife to secure his place as ruler. Rhea, meanwhile, his wife, wept for her children and one day decided to hide the newborn Zeus from Chronos. She gave him into the care of a nymph who, in the form of a goat, nourished Zeus with her milk. Thus the future ruler of Olympus grew up, protected and raised by the goat Amalthea. This large pendant made of gold, precious stones, pearls and coloured enamel is a precious monument to this tale from the mythical world of the Greeks. We see Zeus and the goat in the middle of the work, which is made of high-carat gold. A multi-coloured enamelled frame set with precious emeralds, rubies and diamonds surrounds the scene, which is given as a sculptural group in miniature format. The upper part is formed by movable chains, while female grotesque figures and a sparkling row of diamonds provide a solid base for Zeus and Amalthea. Works in gold with coloured enamelling have been the pinnacle of goldsmiths' art since the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. The "Golden Horse Inn" from Altötting, made in 1404, and the "Saliera" by Benvenuto Cellini, now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, are world-famous. In the 19th century, designs in the Renaissance style also became fashionable throughout Europe in the field of jewellery, initially in France and England, and towards the end of the century also in Germany and Austria-Hungary. The pendant presented here was created in Italy during the last few years, and its skilful and detailed workmanship places it in this great tradition. Its forms, its theme from classical antiquity and its colouring correspond exactly to its famous predecessors. Since it is so amazingly elaborately crafted and at the same time perfectly preserved, we have decided not to withhold it from you. It is a beautiful sign of an unequal but nurturing love against all odds - or just a first-class piece of goldsmith's art. Just according to your own point of view.

Jewellery in Renaissance forms with rich enamelling is a particularly precious field of collecting. Only a few of these precious pieces have come down to us over the course of time without damage or missing parts, so it is a special stroke of luck to find one of these period pieces. Especially in the 19th century designs in this technique were realized. First of all, from the 1850s onwards, an enthusiasm arose in France for the era of François I and Henri II, which was understood to be an age of patriotic greatness. François-Désiré and Émile Froment-Meurice created jewellery around scenes such as the "Toilet of Venus", which at the same time made scholarly references to antiquity and yet in a cheerful way did not ignore the interests of this worldly life. Other goldsmiths such as Boucheron, Falize and Wièse followed - and in 1871 Paris was already considered the capital of enamel by the Art Journal. In Great Britain, the development took a similar course. Here, too, the Renaissance was regarded as the national style, since it referred to the glamorous era of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. John Brogden and Carlo Giuliano produced designs in London in the 1860s that were inspired by the jewels in Hans Holbein's paintings, which is why the style was called "Holbeinesque." Queen Victoria was seen as the new Queen Elizabeth and jewellery that linked this past with the present was thus seen as a badge of patriotic pride. Finally, in Germany, jewellery in Renaissance forms became fashionable under the term "Old German Style". Here, since the 1870s, the Dürer period was invoked. Jewellers such as Huga Schaper in Berlin and August Kleeberg in Vienna supplied high-quality jewellery in the Renaissance style, as did their colleagues in Paris and London, richly decorated with coloured enamel. The differences between the respective national styles, which were in any case more claimed than actual, became increasingly blurred towards the end of the century. Jewellery with artistic enamel, however, remained fashionable for a long time - for the artists of Art Nouveau, such as René Lalique, also liked to use this technique, albeit now in a completely different formal language.

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.