- Material: Sardonyx Shell, 15 k gold tested.
- Size: 3 1/8" by 2 6/8" only cameo is 2 2/8" by 1 7/8".
- Date and Origin: Circa 1860 Italy.
- Conditions: Excellent, a few natural internal shell lines. Mentioned for accuracy.
Museum Quality cameo depicting the Triumph of Poseidon, a rarest subject never seen until now. The carving is superb and fine and being this one a scene, and let me say that this one is a very intricate and elaborate one, I can say that each detail in this scene is perfectly rendered. This scene is really a triumph of stunning particulars and people. You can see the fierce and strong Poseidon, the God of the sea, strongly holding is trident above all the people standing in the scene. His body is simply fabulous, sculpted and muscled, look at how the carver made his muscles, amazing! His is standing on cart in a shape of a clam shell driven by two fantastic horses which are superbly made, their manes are rippling in the wind and the effect is just lovely. There are a lot of people who celebrate the triumph of Poseidon, you can see some mermen, one is playing a trumpet, another one holds the bridles of the horses. There are also two cupids, one is flying and the other one, wonderfully made, is on a mythological sea creature. All the scene is on the sea which the carver made beautifully. This really is a rare subject and surely is from a painting or from a sculpture but I have not yet identified it. Everything is art in this lovely cameo, looking at the whole scene you can just see a sense of movement. The proportions are just the right ones, not easy to keep when carving something of so complicated on a small surface. The gold frame too is lovely with four elaborated gold scrolls at the cardinal points. Another cameo to not to be missed because rarest, a real collector piece.
A bit of History:
Poseidon, the earth-shaker, was allotted the dominion of the sea (just as Zeus got the sky, and Hades the Underworld) and he received the trident from the CYCLOPES (just as Zeus got the thunderbolt, and Hades a helmet). Poseidon was the first to concern himself with seafaring, and the first to tame horses. The Arcadians say that when Poseidon was born his mother declared to her husband Cronos who used to swallow his offspring at birth, that she had given birth to a horse, and so she presented him a foal to swallow instead of the child, just as later she offered him a wrapped stone in place of Zeus Rhea committed the child Poseidon to Caphira (one of the OCEANIDS and to the TELCHINES so that they would nurture him, much in the way as she later committed Zeus to the CURETES for his protection. But others say that Poseidon was swallowed by his father, as also were his siblings Hestia, Hera, Hades and Demeter for they assert that only Zeus escaped that fate. When Zeus had grown up, he asked Metis to help him against his father Cronos who was a stern tyrant; so she gave Cronos a drug, which forced him to disgorge first the stone with which Rhea had deluded him, and then the children whom he had swallowed, among which Poseidon. And with the aid of his brothers and sisters Zeus waged war against Cronos and the TITANS, whom he defeated and cast into Tartarus, a place as far beneath the earth as heaven is above earth. Having won victory, they cast lots for the sovereignty, and to Zeus was allotted the dominion of the sky, to Poseidon the dominion of the sea, and to Hades the dominion of the Underworld Then Poseidon constructed the brazen fence that runs round Tartarus and its gates of bronze, behind which the TITANS were confined.
It is said that when Poseidon decided to marry the Oceanid Amphitrite, she, wishing to remain a virgin, escaped and fled to Atlas. Poseidon then send many to look for her, and among them a certain Delphin, who after long wanderings, found her and persuaded her to marry Poseidon, organizing himself the whole wedding. For this reason, they say, Poseidon put the dolphin among the CONSTELLATIONS.