At the well before the gate

Shell cameo set in gold as brooch & pendant, France circa 1850

A dreamlike cameo in a masterful, exceptionally high-quality cut in an antique gold setting with filigree trimming. The French work of the mid-19th century shows in impressive format an Arcadian scene: A woman in a rural dress with apron and hat stands at a well outside the settlement indicated in the background to fetch water. A tree provides shade and a goat, in France the symbolic animal per se for rural life, accompanies her. Is she waiting for the return of her beloved? At first glance, the depiction is a genre scene without further significance. Against the background of the period in which it was created, however, the piece takes on the character of a contemporary document. With the onset of industrialization in the 19th century, life in France was increasingly changing. Émile Zola's great novels tell of the influx of more and more people into Paris. The city was transformed, the old, romantic parts of medieval Paris disappeared and the great avenues and boulevards took their place. Despite all the joy of progress and new luxuries, a sense of loss of the old France also gained ground in broad sections of the population. The cameo presented here is to be understood against this background: At the moment of its loss, it once again celebrates in a romantic manner the country life, the carefree happiness under the open sky, carefree and without obligations of office, counting house and factory. Similar to the Ancien Régime, a longing for the countryside cast its spell, which in the backward-looking transfiguration of the rural could at the same time develop an utopia for the future, to live more freely and in closer togetherness. The cut of the work is wonderful: detailed, fine and natural are the proportions of the figures and the depiction of the landscape. Even the details of the clothing, and the leaves of the tree shine with the highest quality. Also, the background and figure are clearly separated by the coloration of the two layers and stand out beautifully. The setting of the delicate piece is crafted from solid gold with additional fine gold plating. In the best manner, the setting is adapted to the irregular natural shape of the cameo and transforms it into a straight geometry. Delicate threads and pearls of gold decorate the frame, which was created at the same time as the cameo around 1850.

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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.