- Material: Sardonyx shell, 9k gold tested.
- Size: 1 6/8" by 1 5/8", cameo itself is 1 1/2" by 1 3/8".
- Date and Origin: Circa 1860 Italy.
- Conditions: Excellent.
Excellent Quality high-relief shell cameo in a gold mount, circa 1860. The subject is Psyche, the wife of Eros and Goddess of Soul. This is a rare cameo because it depicts Psyche carved in front face. The carving is amazing, you can see all the details of her face. Her main symbols, the butterfly wings, are shown. This one is a true rare collector piece. Her face is so well carved, she's so pretty and feminine. Her nose is just perfect, her eyes have a sweet look, her mouth is full and sensual. Look at her hair so finely carved. Butterfly wings are on her shoulders. There is no need to mention that the three-dimensional effect is just amazing. The frame is simple and classic, the right one to evidence the cameo for first, so the eyes are mainly caught by the cameo which really is worth to be seen. This is another masterly carved cameo. A very desirable collectors piece, rare and high quality cameo.
A bit of History:
In Greek mythology, Psyche was the deification of the human soul. She was portrayed in ancient mosaics as a goddess with butterfly wings. The Greek word psyche literally means "spirit, breath, life or animating force". Psyche was originally the youngest daughter of the king and queen of Sicily, and the most beautiful person on the island. Suitors flocked to ask for her hand. She eventually boasted that she was more beautiful than Aphrodite (Venus) herself, and Aphrodite sent Eros to transfix her with an arrow of desire, to make her fall in love with the nearest person or thing available. But even Eros (Cupid) fell in love with her, and took her to a secret place, eventually marrying her and having her made a goddess by Zeus (Jupiter).
Young girl of extraordinary beauty, Psyche instigates the terrible jealousy of Venus, which orders to Eros to arouse in her the passion for a man of vile condition. The God however falls in love with Psyche and conduct her in a fabulous palace where every night he goes to visit her under false semblances. Eros asks to the young one not to try to know his identity under punishment of the abandonment. One night, nevertheless, Psyche, instigated by her malignant and envious sisters and armed with a knife, draws near to the god making light with a lamp. This way, a drops of oil strains from the oil lamp falling on the shoulder of Eros, which arouses him and, disappointed, he abandons the young girl . In the desperate search of the lost love Psyche reaches the palace of Venus. The Goddess, moved by the anger, submits the young girl to a series of tests, that Psyche succeeds in overcoming thanks to the help of some Gods. Eros meanwhile, suffering of nostalgia, goes to search for the beloved one and found her, he asks the permission to marry her to Jupiter. The king of the Gods orders therefore to Mercury to go to take Psyche and to conduct her on the Olympus among the immortal ones. The history of Eros and Psyche fascinated particularly the Renaissance artists that represented her in all of her episodes in the decorations of noble palaces.