Exceptional Grand Tour Victorian Hardstone Cameo Brooch Ariadne


This exceptionally carved cameo brooch depicts the Cretan princess Ariadne, who gave Theseus the sword to slay the minotaur and the thread so he could retrace his steps back through the labyrinth. Her love for him was unrequited and she was abandoned on the island of Naxos.

Later Athenian representations justify this desertion in the following terms: that before sailing home, Theseus had been visited by Dionysus, who told of his plans to marry Ariadne. Thus, absolving him of his blame.

The cameo is loosely based on the marble statue of Ariadne in the Vatican City. Such brooches would have been popular with wealthy tourists, travelling in Italy during the 19th century.

That it is carved in sardonyx stone, as opposed to the more commonly used conch shell, reflects its rarity and quality. As well being a more expensive material, it is also far harder to work with.

The condition of the brooch is very good, though there is some minute wear to the subject's neck. There is a small flaw to the polished background, to the left of the eye. The 9ct mount is highly ornate and largely without tarnish.

Size: 54mm x 48 x 16mm