Material: Hard stone, 18 k Gold tested.
Size: 2 1/2" by 2 1/8" excluding the bale which is 6/8", only cameo is 2 1/8" by 1 6/8".
Date and Origin: 1880 Italy.
Conditions: Almost pristine. Just close to the angle of her mouth there is something that could seem a slightest imperfection, (look at the first picture) hard to see even with a loupe, I can't say if that is an invisible chip or it is just the angle of her mouth which is just so carved. Mentioned for accuracy. The light darker line that can be seen on the carving is just the black layer of the stone that, in that point, is closer to the surface, it is absolutely not due to any imperfection of the carving.
This is another highest Museum Quality cameo signed by one of the master carvers of the past, Filippo Tignani. This cameo depicts Goddess Athena in all her splendour, her wonderful armour, helmet and shield. What can I say about this wonderful work of art? Pictures speak by themselves. First of all the eye is caught by her sumptuous helmet, rich of details and wonderfully carved, the Zeus face depicted on it along with wings and decorative scrolls on its back. Just an artwork. Her curly and long hair come out from the helmet and softly lay on her shoulders. Then you can look at her beauty, the pureness of the lines of her face are simply incredible, her perfect nose, her expressive eye, (even the pupil is carved) her sensual round and full mouth, looking at her pensive and regal pose it gives you the impression that you are looking at one of the wonderful Roman or Greek perfect statues. From the hard and cold stone the carver was able to pull out something that is alive. Her armour is wonderfully carved, each scale of it is perfectly made. Her shield is another stunning artwork, the head of Medusa depicted on it, Perseus gave the Medusa head to Athena to place it on her shield. This cameo is a stunning work of art, beauty and harmony. Looking at the pictures all the beauty of this piece can be clearly seen and it is something of really outstanding. The black of the background and the white of the carving are a perfect contrast and the white is wonderfully evidenced on the black stone. Cameo is scratch signed on the back with the date "1880", the name of the artist Filippo Tignani Engraver, then the city, Rome, and the address, Via Condotti, 91. The frame is another artwork, Etruscan Revival style chiselled on solid and heavy gold. The mounting has an unusual and interesting device to make the cameo brooch or pendant, the device can be removed when cameo is worn as brooch. This is a piece that any Museum would compete to have, like most of my cameos which are really Museum Quality cameos.
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.