Allegory of the Night
  • Material: Sardonyx Shell, 18K gold tested .
  • Size: 2 1/8" by just under 1 6/8".
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1850/1860 Italy.
  • Conditions: Shell is in mint condition, the frame has a tiny dent at 9.00 hours, see picture, hard to see by naked eye, a smallest trace of soldering on the back frame.. 
Museum quality cameo depicting The Allegory of the Night. The goddess Selene is depicted with her main attributes, as the poppies in her hair. Moon and star are other two attributes of Selene.  This is a cameo of surpassing beauty, carved by an artist. Every details is perfectly rendered making this cameo a real work of art. This cameo has been carved with so much skill, just look at her veil, I really have never seen one carved so crisply  Another amazing particular is the carving of her closed eye, it appears that really there is her eye under the closed eye-lid as the carving is round in that point. Isn'it incredible? With no doubt this is one of the best cameos depicting that subject that I have ever handled, The frame too is wonderfully worked. There are no words to describe it, the pictures speak by themselves. This is another masterly carved cameo. .A very desirable collectors piece, rare and museum quality cameo.
A bit of History:
Selene, Goddess of the Moon, daughter of Hyperion. her assignment is to bring the moonlight to the humans driving a cart drawn from oxen or from horses that runs after the solar one, in many representations. Generally described like a beautiful woman with pale face that wears long, flowing, white or silver robe and that has on her head a waxing moon and a torch in her hand. In the Greek-Roman mythology tradition the Moon, thanks to the mutability of its aspect that makes it unique between the stars, has been associated to three divinity and tied to three its "events". Full moon, New moon and Waxing moon. Life metaphor (full moon), death (new moon) rebirth (waxing moon). Since time immemorial these three lunar figures have represented the cycle of  life involving apparently heterogeneous phenomena  like the birth, the death, the fertility, the femininity, the immortality. Selene, (from Selas - Greek) means splendour.