Material: Sardonyx Shell, 15k gold tested, enamel.
Size: over 5 1/2" by 3 5/8" only cameo is 2 6/8"" by 2 2/8"
Date and Origin: circa 1850 England.
Museum Quality cameo depicting a The Holy Family (called of Francis I) by Raphael. This is a rare find infact this is a cameo mounted on a wood frame which opens and inside there is space to insert a picture. Pratically this is an enormous locket which opens to reveal a picture inside. There is not actually any picture inside but it can de added if one wants. The carving of this piece is outstanding, every detail is superbly made. The faces, which are the most difficult to carve, are all finely made and each one has its own expression, look at the Madonna face, you can see love on it and then look at St. Elizabeth who is holding the little St. John with a protecting expression and then compare the two faces, you can see the age difference on both. The scene has a carved frame made of scrolls, flowers, cherubs, saints and even a swan feeding her "kids". There is so much to see and comment that you can look at it for hours and see always new things not noticed before. Compare the cameo with the original painting and you can see that the carver has reproduced the entire scene with all the details and then added that carved frame who embellishes even more the scene. This is a subject never seen before on a cameo and this makes it a rarest one. Read please the history of the original painting below, it is very interesting. A superb cameo with a superb carving, a real treat for the collectors.
A bit of history:
The Holy Family of Francis I is an oil painting on wood transferred to canvas (207x140 cm) by Raphael and aid, dated 1518 and preserved in the Louvre Museum in Paris. The work is signed and dated on the edge of the robe of the Virgin: "RAPHAEL VRBINAS S [anti] pingebat MDXVIII". The work was commissioned in 1517 by Lorenzo Duke of Urbino, by his Uncle Leone X, to pay homage to the ally Francis I of France. It was sent along with the St. Michael defeats Satan in June 1518. It was restored by the Primaticcio, in 1537-1540, and transferred to canvas in 1777 (a very widespread practice in France) by Louis J. Hacquin, interventions which have affected the picture surface, complicating the assignment. Raphael probably painted only parts, in addition to devising the composition, using probably the help of Giovanni da Udine. The Vasari also made the name of Giulio Romano, while some critics spoke of Raffaellino del Colle.
The work is also called the Great Holy Family, to distinguish it from the Little Holy Family even at the Louvre.
The composition is particularly crowded, with Madonna grabbing the child by a basket covered with pillows, in the center, while Joseph watches from behind and to the left St. Elizabeth helps the young John the Baptist to make a gesture of prayer. More behind you see two angelic figures, one of which stretches to put a wreath on the head of Mary.It is the most concise description of the landscape, visible on the left through an opening in what looks like a shack.
Raphael experienced in this work unpublished color and light effects, drawing inspiration from the "sfumato" of Leonardo and to the disruptive plasticity to Michelangelo; Sebastiano del Piombo, in a letter to MichelangelBuonarroti, criticized the work talking about "iron figures that shone" and seemed to have been "smoked."