Medusa
 
 
  • Material: Cornelian Shell, 18 k gold tested.
  • Size: Total length 2 1/2". Framed cameo is 1 5/8" by 1 3/8". Only cameo is 1 2/8" by 1"
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1850/1860 Italy, frame is probably English.
  • Conditions: Cameo was once a brooch, pin was lost or removed and a bale then was added along with the gold bow pin later. There is a tiniest not noticeable trace of soldering where the small bale were attached to frame.  Another small soldering on the plain frame, not visible from the front or when worn. A few hairlines, a tiniest stress line that does not go through the shell, only on the front. Lines are visible when cameo is backlit, barely visible from the front.  
Museum quality small cameo of Medusa, this one has a wonderful carving despite its small size. I took it even because of the lovely frame with gold bow. A lovely cameo very finely carved. The face of Medusa is sad and her sadness is well rendered, her facial features perfect.  All the carving in this cameo is a fine work due to the skill of the carver who used the colors of the shell to evidence the wings. Her face is totally beautiful. The frame is in Etruscan style and is really gorgeous and elegant, the finely worked gold bow on the top completes the beauty of this cameo. Collectors know that carving a fine cameo on a small shell is harder than carve one on larger shell, small finely carved cameos are rare and this one is one of the few really finely carved. Everything in this cameo is superb, a true masterpiece to collect.
 
A bit of history:
Medusa is a  character of Greek's mythology, she was one of three Gorgons, the only one that was mortal. Poseidon fell in love with Medusa and one night he took her in a temple consecrated to Athena to consummate their love. Athena offended, transformed Medusa's hair into snakes and again everyone that had looked Medusa's eyes would have been petrified. Medusa was killed by Perseus who cut her head looking at her through a bright shield received from Athena. From Medusa's body came out Pegasus, the mythic winged horse, and Crisaore generated with the union with Poseidon. For this reason Medusa's head was given by Perseus to Athena who put it in the center of her aegis. Aegis used by Athena, is a fringed armour or a shield with Medusa's head in the center.