Athena in Armour
 
 
  • Material: Sardonyx Shell, 18k yellow and green gold tested, plaque where the C clasp is located could be probably not gold..
  • Size: 2 1/2" by 2 1/8" only cameo is 2" by 1 5/8"
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1860 Italy, frame could be English.
  • Conditions: Shell is mint, no lines at all, only a few scratches on the back. A small trace of soldering on the back of the frame where the C clasp was added probably to replace a lost one. Soldering is not visible from the front by naked eye even thanks to the frame which is very elaborated.
Highest Museum quality, large and rare cameo depicting Athena in armour. Everything in this cameo is perfect, the carver took advantage from the enough high curve of the shell to carve the subject in a three-quarters position. This cameo is full and rich of details, the helmet worn by the goddess, her wonderful long hair, her shield magnificently engraved with the owl, one of her symbols, the armour on her breast showing the head of Medusa and worked like a snake skin but made, at the same time, very feminine by a flower which the armour is hanged to. It appear that real wind blows on the cameo looking at the hair on her helmet who is moved like in a true wind. Her face is lovely, the grace of a woman and the force of a warrior are both on her face expression. To complete the beauty of this cameo someone made a frame that we can define more than wonderful, so rich and elaborate, every leaf and every scroll are perfectly worked, the two colors of the gold, yellow and green, give a further touch of class to both cameo and frame. This subject is probably after a sculpture or a painting but I'm still researching to find the exact artwork. I'm simply amazed looking at this cameo which is, in my opinion, a true work of art and a very rare one.  
 
A bit of history:
In the Greek mythology Athena, daughter of Zeus, was the goddess of  Wisdom, of the Weaving, of the Arts, and, presumably, of the noblest sides of the War, while the violence and the cruelty were part of  the dominion of Ares. The sacred symbols were the owl and the olive. She is almost always represented with a helmet or a shield and with the Aegis (a short armour with fringes) with in the center the head of  Medusa given by Perseus to Athena in sign of thanks for the help had when he faced the Medusa. Athena never had an husband or lover and for this she was known like Athena Parthenos (the Virgin Athena), from which the name of the most famous temple dedicated to her, the Parthenon on Athen's Acropolis.