Allegory of the Night
  • Material: Sardonyx Shell, 15K gold tested .
  • Size: 2 6/8" by just under 2 3/8".
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1850 Italy.
  • Conditions: A stress line that can be felt from back and front just close to the leaf on the head of the goddess, another stress line that can be felt a bit only from the back, a couple of hairlines.
Museum quality cameo depicting The Allegory of the Night. The goddess Selene is depicted with all of her attributes, as the owl holding poppies in its pawns, and  poppies in her hair. Moon and star are other two attributes of Selene.  This is a cameo of surpassing beauty, carved by an artist. Every details is perfectly rendered making this cameo a real work of art. This cameo has been carved with so much skill, if you look at the Goddess' mouth you can see something that at first sight could appear as a chip in the carving, it is not so, the carver has made the lips of the Goddess three-dimensional  giving them the movement of real lips. For this reason the central part of the lips is more deeply carved and looking at the cameo from different angles it can appear like a chip but I repeat it is not so. Another amazing particular is the carving of the owl, look at its feathers they seem just real, it appears like the feather would fly out of the cameo! Isn'it incredible? With no doubt this is one of the best cameos depicted that subject that I have ever handled, The frame too is wonderfully worked and hard to find in this mint conditions. There are no words to describe it, the pictures speak by themselves. This is another masterly carved cameo. .A very desirable collectors piece, rarest and more than museum quality cameo.
A bit of History:
Selene, Goddess of the Moon, daughter of Hyperion. her assignment is to bring the moonlight to the humans driving a cart drawn from oxen or from horses that runs after the solar one, in many representations. Generally described like a beautiful woman with pale face that wears long, flowing, white or silver robe and that has on her head a waxing moon and a torch in her hand. In the Greek-Roman mythology tradition the Moon, thanks to the mutability of its aspect that makes it unique between the stars, has been associated to three divinity and tied to three its "events". Full moon, New moon and Waxing moon. Life metaphor (full moon), death (new moon) rebirth (waxing moon). Since time immemorial these three lunar figures have represented the cycle of  life involving apparently heterogeneous phenomena  like the birth, the death, the fertility, the femininity, the immortality. Selene, (from Selas - Greek) means splendour.