Strengthening for Hermes
Pearl-fringed brooch with agate cameo of Hermes and Hebe, circa 1980
In Greek mythology Hermes was the patron god of traffic, travellers, merchants and shepherds, on the other hand also the god of thieves, art dealers, oratory, gymnastics and magic. A universal patron god, then - and he has been depicted many hundreds of times in the history of art: Probably the most famous portrait was created by Giambologna in Florence around 1580: it shows Hermes of a free-standing statue at the moment when he leaves the sphere of the gods to communicate the decisions of the world of the gods to the people with his winged shoes. The cameo here is cut from two-coloured agate and shows the god as part of a small scenery: Hermes is standing on the right side of the picture, recognizable by his winged helmet and his caduceus, the staff of Hermes. In his right hand he is holding a bowl which is being handed to him by an approaching goddess. This second, female deity is Hebe, the cupbearer of the gods in Olympus, who was responsible for providing the deities with nectar and ambrosia. The scene takes place on a cloud bank and a small winged putto accompanies the two deities. The large, black and white cameo is held in a setting of gold, pearls and diamonds. A frame of fine cultured pearls, held by four white gold clasps, surrounds the relief like a shimmering frame. Elegant, high quality and full of references to classical antiquity, this superbly preserved cameo is a wearable piece of jewellery in first class cut! We discovered the brooch in Vienna.
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.
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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.