Museum Quality Bacchante Cameo
 
 
  • Material : Sardonyx Shell, 15k gold tested.
  • Size:  2 2/8" by just over 1 7/8" only cameo is 1 7/8" by 1 1/2". 
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1860 Italy.
  • Conditions: Immaculate.
Museum Quality cameo depicting a Bacchante. They were followers of Bacchus the God of wine (Dionysus is the Greek name). This one is real unusual depiction, because, as you can clearly see, she shows her teeth. It is very rare seeing teeth carved on any cameo subject. Her mouth is slightly open showing a line of perfect teeth, of course she does not need of any dentist as her teeth are perfect! There are wonderfully carved bunches of grapes and wine leaves in her hair and she’s wearing a panther’s pelt.  The carving is crisply made and perfectly cut and clean, you can see it looking at and her pretty face, at the wine leaves, at the grapes and the clothes. Bacchantes were very popular Victorian cameo subjects but finding the best carved ones is not easy at all and finding one that shows even the teeth’s subject is really rarest. This one is, like all of my cameos, a finest carved one. Each detail in this cameo  is so realistic and well done that you could really think to pick the leaves and the bunch of grapes up from her head. This is a beautiful cameo, the pictures show all of her beauty. The frame is lovely too, in high carat gold, Etruscan revival style. This is another masterly carved cameo. A very desirable collectors piece.
 
 
A bit of history:
In Greek mythology, maenads (Bacchantes) were the female followers of Dionysus, the most significant members of the Thiasus, the retinue of Dionysus. The maenads were also known as Bacchae or Bacchantes in Roman mythology, after the penchant of the equivalent Roman god, Bacchus, to wear a fox-skin. Their name literally translates as "raving ones". Often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by him into a state of ecstatic frenzy, through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear animals (and sometimes men and children) to pieces, devouring the raw flesh. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped by a cluster of leaves; they would weave ivy-wreaths and fruiting vines around their heads, and often handle or wear snakes.