Saturday, January 3, 2015

Cameo


Vintage Porcelain Enamel Victorian Lady Cameo                                   

On courtesy of:   https://www.etsy.com/il-en/shop/MyVintageJewels       

          

Art Deco Shell Cameo Bracelet Sterling Silver 1920s

 On courtesy of:https://www.etsy.com/il-en/shop/OurBoudoir

                                                     

Cameo is a method of carving an object such as an engraved gem, item of jewellery or vessel made in this manner. It nearly always features a raised (positive) relief image; contrast with intaglio, which has a negative image. Originally, and still in discussing historical work, cameo only referred to works where the relief image was of a contrasting colour to the background; this was achieved by carefully carving a piece of material with a flat plane where two contrasting colours met, removing all the first colour except for the image to leave a contrasting background.

Today the term may be used very loosely for objects with no colour contrast, and other, metaphorical, terms have developed, such as cameo appearance. This derives from another generalized meaning that has developed, the cameo as an image of a head in an oval frame in any medium, such as a photograph.

The Great Cameo of France, five layers

Ancient and Renaissance cameos were made from semi-precious gemstones, especially the various types of onyx and agate, and any other stones with a flat plane where two contrasting colours meet; these are "hardstone" cameos. In cheaper modern work, shell and glass are more common. Glass cameo vessels, such as the famous Portland Vase, were also developed by the Romans.

The portland vase

Modern cameos can be produced by setting a carved relief, such as a portrait, onto a background of a contrasting colour. This is called an assembled cameo. Alternatively, a cameo can be carved by the traditional, but far more difficult, method directly out of a material with integral layers or banding, such as (banded) agate or layered glass, where different layers have different colours.
Sometimes dyes are used to enhance these colours.

The technique has enjoyed periodic revivals, notably in the early Renaissance, and again in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Neoclassical revival began in France with Napoleon's support of the glyptic arts, and even his coronation crown was decorated with cameos.
In Britain, this revival first occurred during King George III's reign, and his granddaughter, Queen Victoria, was a major proponent of the cameo trend, to the extent that they would become mass-produced by the second half of the 19th century.
Although occasionally used in Roman cameos, the earliest prevalent use of shell for cameo carving was during the Renaissance, in the 15th and 16th centuries. Before that time, cameos were carved from hardstone. The Renaissance cameos are typically white on a grayish background and were carved from the shell of a mussel or cowry, the latter a tropical mollusk.
Cameo in Shell

Classically the designs carved onto cameo stones were either scenes of Greek or Roman mythology or portraits of rulers or important dignitaries. In history, agate portrait cameos were often gifts from royalty to their subjects. These antique cameos, some more than 2000 years old, are either displayed in museums or are in private collections.

For cameos available on Etsy:

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