The Allegory of the Night
  • Material Hardstone,  gold plated silver marked 800 on the bale.
  • Size:   2 1/8" (excluding bale which is 1/2") by just under 1 6/8" only cameo is 1 5/8" by 1 2/8". 
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1860 Italy.
  • Conditions: Immaculate, the bale has a few tarnished points. The cameo is hand scratched on the back and reads "F. Ciapponi A. Pace, incisori, Via S. Sebastiano, 9  Presso Piazza di Spagna, Roma" the first two names are the ones of the carvers who probably had a shared studio, "incisori" means carvers, then there is the address in Rome. There are also three numbers scratched under the writing, "3 20" which could be an inventory number. 
Museum quality hard stone cameo depicting the Allegory of the Night. The Goddess Selene is here portrayed with all of her symbols, as the owl holding poppies in its pawns, and  poppies in her hair. Moon and star are other two attributes of Selene.  This is a cameo of surpassing beauty, carved by an artist.  Carving on hard stone is more difficult than carving on shell and sometimes the details are not crisp like the one carved on shell. This is not that case, all the details are crisply cut and refined. I have seen just a few hard stone cameos of the Allegory of the Night so finely carved like this one.  Her face shows serenity and her closed eyes just give you the impression that she’s peacefully sleeping and making lovely dreams. Look at her veil and at its folds, it is just there was a sweet wind who moves it and it seems just real. Even the owl who holds the poppies is amazingly carved, look at its wings, aren’t they superb? This piece is a true beauty, a real artwork. This is another masterly carved cameo for your collection. A very desirable Museum Quality piece.
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.