In war and in love...

Antique cameo of Venus and Cupid, Italy & England c. 1850

This unusual cameo shows an exciting motif that has its origins in the world of Greek mythology: In very beautiful cut here is an episode from the life of Venus and Cupid depicted. The popular couple of the classical mythological world is guilty of many a great fortune, but also of many a misfortune. The goddess of love Venus, born from a shell and responsible for the flourishing of love on earth, had a little helper: the god of love Cupid. Cupid shoots arrows at people with a small bow - and he usually does this blindfolded, so that his love arrows can also strike unplanned, accidentally and by mistake! Cupid's quiver holds projectiles with different kinds of tips for this purpose. One half of the arrowheads is made of gold, the other half is made of lead. When struck by a golden arrow, people are inflamed with the fire of love; when pierced by an arrow made of lead, they remain indifferent and unimpressed by the charms of another person. On our shell-gem we see the naked winged boy, his bow already cocked and ready to shoot his dangerous arrows. he hovers above the flower-bedecked chariot of Venus, whose proud steeds mount on a band of clouds. Venus holds the reins loosely and holds her attribute, a dove after at her heart. It seems as if the two gods are ready to go into battle and to help love to victory - and who should be able to resist this? The gem was probably cut in Italy in the years around 1850 and then given a naturalistic setting in England. Small leaves and acorns are set here on the framing branch value. This pretty piece of jewellery came to us from London.

For centuries, the possession of antique cameos and gems 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 gems, 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 gem 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 gem-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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