CAMEO WITH BUST OF A YOUNG WOMAN HOLDING A DOG
Italy, 16th century; mount 18th century
Rose gold, silver, diamonds, white on translucent speckled pink agate
24 x 20.3 mm. (in mount)
During the Renaissance, the ancient art of engraved gems was greatly admired and revived. These finely carved miniature works of art were worn in jewels and by the seventeenth century were set in exuberant vases, vessels and caskets. Milan and its surrounding area was the centre for fine cameo carving. These gemstones sought after at the courts of Europe show mythological scenes and heads from Antiquity, and some were adapted to Renaissance themes, as in this cameo. Symbolizing fidelity and loyalty, the young lady supports a dog in her arms, a theme found in paintings of the period. In the eighteenth century the owner had the cameo mounted in a brooch, in accordance with the fashion of the time framed by rose-cut diamonds in silver to enhance the whiteness of the stones.