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Triumph of Wine

In Fine Jewelry > Cameos > Show & Tell.
kiwipaul's loves83 of 328Venus & CupidVictorian multicolor stones butterfly brooch.
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    Posted 4 years ago

    (15 items)

    Some of the cameos that give me the most pleasure are not great gems by the standards of jewelers or in the eyes of those who collect only the highest of high end pieces. They are like this little helmet shell cameo in what is probably a pinchbeck setting.

    It is the scene and the degree of detail that delight. In the space of 3 cm (1 & 3/16 in.) are 6 figures, including one quadruped, depicting the procession of some of the followers of the wine god Dionysus/Bacchus, members of his 'revel rout'. Fat old Silenus (or Silenos), too inebriated to walk, lolls on his donkey, his progress trumpeted by a goat-footed satyr, or perhaps Pan himself, with the blast of a ram's horn. About them are fauns, other traditional members of the company, the one at the front dumping out the contents of his wine bowl. We can imagine the night is ending; all are retreating to snooze away the day, hidden in the cool woodlands.

    We now use the word 'triumph' as synonymous with 'victory', but in its original sense it meant a procession, a parade, to celebrate a victory. It also came to be applied to scenes like this, the Triumph of Silenus, which, with variations, was a favorite with gem engravers. But it seems to me that wine was the victor here, literally knocking the paunchy old guy on his ass.

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    1. Gillian, 4 years ago

      Amazing work - thanks for the interesting story about the cameo.
    2. Celiene Celiene, 4 years ago
      Cameos always amaze me.
    3. Vintagefran Vintagefran, 4 years ago
      I Love this cameosleuth, there's so much more than just a pretty face :)
    4. cameosleuth cameosleuth, 4 years ago
      Thank you, all, & to everyone who adds this piece to their Love List. Wish my photos did it full justice: the ram's horn does go all the way to the mouth of the figure winding it, but the relief is so shallow there, it did not rise into the white layer. The carver made use of natural undulations in the shell to get remarkable depth of field out of such a small piece.
    5. Ms.CrystalShip Ms.CrystalShip, 4 years ago
      What an absolute treasure!
      And the curious account of what the maker depicts in his work put a smile to my face..thank you for leading me here!
    6. cameosleuth cameosleuth, 4 years ago
      We are quite a rowdy household. If this will open for you, you can see some of the other inmates here:

      Hitting the plus sign key while holding down Ctrl (Ctrl + +) will let you enlarge it.

      The pleasure of inebriation was a favorite subject in antiquity. This silver ring dates to the 1930s; the glass paste intaglio is approx. 1800 years old:
    7. Passion4Cameos Passion4Cameos, 3 years ago
      It is adorable!
    8. cameosleuth cameosleuth, 3 years ago
      Thanks! The old guy gets me every time.

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