- Material: Red Sardinia Coral , 14k gold marked, diamonds, circa 0.30 cts, diamonds color J.
- Size: 2 1/8" by 1 2/8", at the widest point, only cameo is 1 7/8" by 1".
- Weight: 27.4 grams.
- Date and Origin: Circa 1860 Italy, frame is recent, circa 1950.
- Conditions: Immaculate, a couple of natural fissurations in the coral.
Museum Quality coral cameo depicting a Siren (Mermaid) in the sea waves and holding a fish. A very unusual subject wonderfully carved from one piece of Sardinia Coral. The proportions are perfect and the body of the Siren is amazingly carved, look at fishtail. it is fantastic. Her breast is nude and her hair long and curly. The sea waves are carved like scrolls and give movement to this stunning piece. This coral cameo is antique, circa 1860, the mounting instead is from circa 1950, embellished with brilliant cut diamonds. A very unusual and rare piece to be surely collected.
In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous and devious creatures, portrayed as femmes fatales who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on some small islands called Sirenum scopuli. In some later, rationalized traditions, the literal geography of the "flowery" island of Anthemoessa, or Anthemusa, ifixed: sometimes on Cape Pelorum and at others in the islands known as the Sirenuse, near Paestum, or inCapreae. All such locations were surrounded by cliffs and rocks. When the Sirens were given a name of their own they were considered the daughters of the river god Achelous, fathered upon Terpsichore, Melpomene, Sterope, or Chthon (the Earth; in Euripides'Helen
167, Helen in her anguish calls upon "Winged maidens, daughters of the Earth"). Although they lured mariners, for the Greeks the Sirens in their "meadow starred with flowers" were not sea deities. Roman writers linked the Sirens more closely to the sea, as daughters of Phorcys. Sirens are found in many Greek stories, particularly in Homer'sOdyssey
. Their number is variously reported as between two and five. In the Odyssey
,Homer says nothing of their origin or names, but gives the number of the Sirens as two.Later writers mention both their names and number: some state that there were three,Peisinoe, Aglaope, and Thelxiepeia (Tzetzes, ad Lycophron
7l2) or Parthenope, Ligeia, and Leucosia. Eustathius states that they were two, Aglaopheme and Thelxiepeia. Their individual names are variously rendered in the later sources as Thelxiepeia/Thelxiope/Thelxinoe, Molpe, Aglaophonos/Aglaope/Aglaopheme, Pisinoe/Peisinoë/Peisithoe, Parthenope, Ligeia, Leucosia, Raidne, and Teles.