Day & Night

Enchanting antique shell cameo as brooch in silver, around 1890

The cameo here shows in detailed cut at central place two young ladies: One awake, the other asleep - both beautiful as dreams. They are allegories of day and night, the goddesses Eos and Nyx. Classical antiquity already knew these personifications of the dawn and the dark night. As a pair of opposites, they have always inspired artists and remained the subject of the visual arts. In this cameo, which was created in Italy around 1890 and then probably set in Germany, we encounter day and night as unequal sisters: Day, on the left in the picture, looks ahead, wears blossoming roses in her hair and wears a peblos, the garment worn by ladies in classical antiquity. Night, on the other hand, dreaming with closed eyes, is depicted behind the dawn. Opium poppies adorn her hair and a crescent moon appears above her veiled head. Thus this brooch celebrates the cycle of time, and the endless alternation of light and dark, of day and night. In front of the two goddesses, Eos and Nyx, other small attributes are plastically rendered in a raised manner. An eagle with a cornucopia represents the day and the moon and stars symbolize the night. A silver setting with a renewed ball safety catch makes the gem wearable as a brooch. All details are especially finely cut into the two-coloured shell of the carnelian shell. The figures of the two goddesses and all the details are vividly rendered and stand out finely against their slightly darker background.

To possess antique cameos and gems has been the ambition of almost all great collections for centuries: We find spectacular pieces in the Green Vault in Dresden, in the treasury of Rudolf II, to the great private collections such as that of Baron Stosch in later times. The 18th and 19th centuries produced numerous large imprint collections of antique seal stones and gems, which represent the antique imagery of glyptic almost in its entirety. Thus they were not least 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 imprints 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 professional training centre in the world for gem-cutters, although unfortunately the mythological theme has almost been lost as a subject.

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.


OUR PROMISE

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.

Play