Cameo with Double Portrait in Clasp Mount
Two-layered agate cameo (white on light brown) with a double portrait facing to the left and looking upward. The male figure has long hair that falls onto his bare shoulder and is held by a wide band over his forehead. The woman behind him has her hair swept back and appears to be wearing a short veil that falls onto her bare shoulder. The cameo is set in a yellow gold collet with simulated corded wire edging in a rose-gold clasp with serrated collet and loop on either side, probably meant to be attached to a pearl necklace. The mount shows wear through age but is in good, wearable condition.
Portraits of Roman Emperors were highly fashionable during the Renaissance period, and rulers frequently emulated their ancient counterparts, often including a double portrait with their spouse. The couple portrayed here could be Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan (1444-1476) and his second wife Bona of Savoy (1449-1503) whom he married in 1468. After the assassination of her husband, Bona served as regent of Milan for her son from 1476-1481. Only a few images exist of Bona of Savoy; see a silver coin in the British Museum, London (C.2113). A portrait of Galeazzo Maria Sforza by Piero del Pollaiuolo is in the Galeria degli Uffizi, Florence (inv. no. 1890-1492), and an idealized statue of the Duke stands in Milan Cathedral. Their son Gian Galeazzo Sforza (d. 1494) is more frequently depicted on cameos. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Northern Italy where this cameo was probably carved was renowned for the high craftmanship of their gem cutters.