- Material: Sardonyx Shell, 18 k gold marked.
- Size: 2 3/8” by 1 7/8” only cameo is 2” by 1 1/2”.
- Date and Origin: Circa 1870 Italy.
- Conditions: Some natural shell lines slightly visible from the front, more visible when cameo is backlit, no stress lines at all. Some natural shell spots on the back, not visible from the front only visible when cameo is backlit. Some numbers scratched on the back.
There are new pictures for this cameo taken with different lights and angles which are necessary to allow you to easily catch the real beauty of the cameo in every detail, difficult task to do through simple pictures.
Magnificent Museum Quality cameo depicting the Nymph Arethusa. A rare subject in a cameo. She's portrayed in profile wearing a net and jewels, a dolphin is portrayed under her neck. Even this one is a more than rare subject. The shell is very dark and consequently the carving is very white, you know that more the shell is dark more the quality of the shell is high. The white carving reflects the light so the pictures really don’t give any justice to this cameo that really should be seen in person to appreciate all of its beauty. It is magnificently carved and its beauty is enhanced from the frame which is made in filigree gold. This frame is an artwork who surrounds another one. A real magnificent cameo. Everything is perfectly carved and so realistic. All the details are perfectly rendered. This is a real work of art, a very rare piece from the Victorian era. The pictures speak by themselves about the beauty of this piece. This is another masterly carved cameo. A very desirable collectors piece, rare and museum quality cameo.
A bit of History:
Arethusa was a nymph and daughter of Nereus (making her a Nereid) and later became a fountain on the island of Ortygia in Syracuse, Sicily. The myth of her transformation begins when she came across a clear stream and began bathing, not knowing it was the river god Alpheus. He fell in love during their encounter, but she fled after discovering his presence and intentions, as she wished to remain a chaste attendant of Artemis. After a long chase, she prayed to her goddess to ask for protection. Artemis hid her in a cloud, but Alpheus was persistent. She began to perspire profusely from fear, and soon transformed into a stream. Artemis then broke the ground allowing Arethusa another attempt to flee. Her stream traveled under the earth to the island of Ortygia, but Alpheus flowed through the sea to reach her and mingle with her waters. Arethusa occasionally appeared on coins as a young girl with a net in her hair and sometimes with dolphin around her head or under her neck. These coins were common around Ortygia, the location in which she ends up after fleeing from Alpheus.