Poet lord in lava

Lavacameo with the portrait of Giambattista Marino, c. 1840

Giambattista Marino (*18 October 1569 in Naples; †25 March 1625 ibid) is considered one of the greatest poets of the Italian Baroque. The ornate style he cultivated, laden with imagery and metaphor, which found many admirers and imitators in Baroque poetry, is known as "Marinism." Although Marino had important patrons in Cardinal Pietro Aldobrandini, Duke Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy, and Maria de' Medici, he was involved in so many disputes that he was imprisoned several times. The illustrated engraving after Simon Vouet shows the artist. Marino is considered one of the heroes of Italian culture and for this reason is portrayed in the medium of the cameo in this piece of jewellery. The material chosen is a particularly beautiful clay-grey lava from the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. The cut of the portrait is fine and detailed, showing Marino as a classical poet prince with a laurel wreath. His curly hair and characteristic long baroque beard are rendered in rich detail. Marino's poetry drew primarily from classical mythology and so the poet is clad in an ancient toga. The multicolored lava of Vesuvius has been a popular material for jewelry since the 18th century: The high-level cameo-cutting culture in the Bay of Naples used this natural product, along with shells and coral, to create popular souvenirs first for Grand Tour travelers and later for tourists from all over Europe. The profile portrait, which was probably cut in the Bay of Naples in the years around 1840, is set in high-carat rose gold. We purchased this and other cameos, all featuring Italian artists, unmounted and our goldsmith has re-set them in the style of their period of origin in a simple and restrained manner. The lava-cut Marino portrait is thus once again wearable and a piece of jewellery that combines artistic sensibility with the joy of first-class craftsmanship of the previous century.

For centuries, the possession of antique cameos was the claim of almost all great collections 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 cameos, which sought to represent the antique imagery of glyptic in its entirety, as they were also an expression of a humanistic education. Of particular importance for the transmission of stone and shell carvings north of the Alps have always been travellers to Italy, who brought home impressions and carved stones as well as engraved shells from their educational journeys in order to enjoy the stories that the shells could tell. The art of cameo cutting has survived to this day in Italy, especially in the Bay of Naples, where it has been passed down from generation to generation. Today, the Scuola dei Cammei in Torre del Greco is the only large-scale training centre for cameo-cutters in the world, but unfortunately the mythological theme world as a subject has been almost completely lost.

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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.

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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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