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Cameo Portrait of the Young Alexander III of Russia, by Paul Lebas, circa 1867

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Posted 3 years ago

(122 items)

Some recent posts by Bluboi reminded me just how fascinating historical jewels can be. If Bluboi is who I think she is then we're seeing pieces from an extraordinary collection by someone who has devoted a huge amount of time to curating wonderful jewels on the web for the benefit of us all.

So I've reached into the back of the Tardis for an historical piece or two. I'm a treasure hunter and sleeper hunter, and this one was one of my better finds, because it passed through a prominent local auction house and dealer without anyone noticing the obvious and flamboyantly scratched "PL" signature on the back.

Paul-Victor LEBAS was a prominent C19th cameo sculptor in Paris, at 19 Rue Guenegaud. He was active 1851-1876. Lebas exhibited at the Paris Salons and worked with the jewellers Caillot & Peck, specialists in cameo settings. His best known works are the cameo portraits of the young Queen Victoria (now in the V&A, see: http://www.vam.ac.uk/users/node/4981) and Napoleon III's son (now in the Met, see: http://metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/198597).

This is a hardstone cameo portrait of the young Alexander III of Russia, completed circa 1866-7, and probably based on images from a couple of years earlier when he was aged about 19, long before he became Tsar in 1881.

Further details can be seen here: http://www.theholygrail.com/Cameo-AlexanderIII.pdf


  1. kyratango kyratango, 3 years ago
    OOOH! Kiwipaul! Another marvel from your collection, I would love to see them all :-)) as for Bluboi's.
    The holygrail.com link is stupefiant, is this your work in identifying?
  2. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 3 years ago
    Hey Kyra, yes the link on theholygrail.com is my research into this piece. Once I worked out who the cameo artist was, I realised he specialised in cameos of royalty, and rich and famous people. So then I spent many, many hours looking at pics of famous C19th people to come up with the identification. Pretty happy that I have nailed it!
  3. vetraio50 vetraio50, 3 years ago
    Amazing how far these objects can travel !!!!!

    Can we see the PL signature?
  4. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 3 years ago
    Hey vetraio50, Yes extraordinary how pieces of jewelry travel round the world. I pestered the auctioneers to disclose anything about provenance but they refused me any info, so I have no idea how it came to my country.

    The piece is in the vault at the bank, but next time I visit I'll get him out and take a pic of the signature, cheers.
  5. DrFluffy DrFluffy, 3 years ago
    This is one of my favorite posts ever. You are a historian and author. So excited to see more.
  6. kyratango kyratango, 3 years ago
    Bravo, bravissimo!!!
  7. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 3 years ago
    Splendid piece of jewelry!!! Well done, kiwipaul!
  8. Bluboi Bluboi, 3 years ago
    What an amazing find, and more splendid, what amazing research you have done! Bravo! I love the history of this old stuff, and am saddened by how few pieces I own where there is any information. When there is -- I cherish it and dig around as much as I can! The web has given us such access to information. BTW, don't forget Google Book search (google.com/books) -- it has a treasure trove of old reference materials in full-text.

    Love the frame on the cameo also -- really beautiful!
  9. kiwipaul kiwipaul, 3 years ago
    Thanks Bluboi for your kind comments, I think you're being a bit modest about how few of your pieces have yielded to research.

    Doing the research is one thing, finding time to write up the results in a readable format is even more challenging. Last year some online friends on Pearl-Guide.com challenged me to write a series on the history of antique pearl jewelry.

    It was quite a struggle to come up with something that fitted their magazine format. It's a work in progress, however you can see how well (or poorly) I'm doing here: http://www.pearl-guide.com/forum/content.php?r=30-Antique-Pearl-Jewelry-that-YOU-Could-Own
  10. Bluboi Bluboi, 3 years ago
    I like your set of articles on pearls, especially the way you divided them up into manageable and absorbable segments. Your comments on repairing hit home! I have a lovely Giuliani pendant and one of the pearls was wrong. I went to a London jeweler friend for a replacement and it was extremely difficult to find one which matched. He said the Saudis are buying up every antique pearl they can find....
  11. kyratango kyratango, 3 years ago
    Paul! I read your fantastic articles about pearls and joined Pearl Guide at the same moment.
    Will have no more time to hunt now.... Too much to read and learn :-D

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