SOLD: Early Victorian Madonna and child cameo brooch, circa 1840


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This enormous early Victorian cameo is of very fine quality.

The subject of the Madonna and child has been carved in a masterful, painterly way. Look at the drapery, all four hands, and the emotions captured on the faces.

The setting is 18-carat gold filigree and cannetille, so it’s probably Italian or French.

The front of the gold has oxidised over time, and could be cleaned. I have decided to leave it as I feel it softens the look of the frilly filigree.

As this cameo is so good I started to wonder about who created it. Surely only the head of the workshop would have been entrusted with such a large shell.

And this was certainly not the first time he had carved this scene. There is a fluidity here that comes from years of practice.

Does anyone out there know if this is based on a famous painting or drawing?

It looks so familiar to me, yet I can’t find a similar image online. Or perhaps it’s a distillation of many Renaissance paintings?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


• Handmade in carved shell and 18-carat yellow gold
• Approximately 9cm (3 1/2 inches) tall, 8cm (just over 3 inches) wide
• Weight is 37.8 grams
• In very good antique condition: there are a couple of stress marks in the shell and a little of the filigree is missing on one corner
• Will come in a Karen Deakin gift box (the antique box is not for sale)

Please examine the photographs carefully – they form part of the description.

I’d be very happy to send more information and images. Layaway available.

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