Exceptional Large Cameo of the Persian Sibyl
  • Material: Sardonyx Shell,  15k gold tested.
  •  Size:  2 5/8” by  2 2/8”, cameo itself is 2 2/8" by 1 7/8".
  •  Date and Origin: Circa 1860 Italy.
  • Conditions: A few lines, two of them are stress lines, only at their top and on the back, which don't go through the shell, visible when cameo is backlit, barely visible when looking at the cameo from the front. There are some numbers scratched on the gold frame 252/9.

Musem Quality cameo depicting the Sibilla Persica (Persian Sibyl). This cameo is after a painting of Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, Cento 1591 - Bologna 1666) painted in 1647 for the Governor of Cento Carlo Rondinelli. The painting is now in the Capitoline Museum in Rome. With no doubt this is one of the best Sibyls cameo that I have ever handled. The details are so perfect and crisply cut, the carving is three dimensional. Her turban is so perfectly made that you can see each single pleats and even the fringe at its end. Speaking of how her clothes are carved I can say that the carver has really made an artwork. You can even see the round relief of her breast over the décolleté. The carving is so amazingly made that you can see even the writing on the book and on the paper she's holding.  The carver has perfectly reproduced the painting which the cameo is from. Look at her hands, they are simply perfect. Each details is wonderfully carved. Speaking of how her clothes are carved I can say that the carver has really made an artwork. Her sumptuous dress is magnificently made, her left hand softly rested against her cheek is carved so finely that the hand seems real. You can even see the round relief of her breast over the décolleté. Her face is so pretty and magnificently made, she is alive. Her light smile has something of enigmatic, being a Sibyl, just like she wanted to say "I know the solution of the enigma but I won't tell it to you. You must solve it by yourself". The carver was so skill and was able to give to her face a trace of mystery, that mystery who normally surrounded those mythological creatures called Sibyls. From all these details, masterly carved, you can easily understand why this is a museum quality and rare cameo. There are a lot of wonderfully carved details in this cameo. You can see them very well through the pictures. The frame is gorgeous, elaborately worked at the four cardinal points and made of massive gold, the right frame to enhance the beauty of this cameo. This is another masterly carved cameo. A very desirable collectors piece, rare and museum quality cameo.

A bit of History:

The word Sibyl comes Latin from the ancient Greek word sibylla, meaning prophetess There were many Sibyls in the ancient world, but the Persian Sibyl is said to have foretold the exploits of Alexander of Macedon (The Great) .Nicanor, who wrote the life of Alexander mentions her. The Persian Sibyl, by name Sambethe, was said to be of the family of Noah. A painting of Sibilla Persica by Guercino (1647) hangs in the Capitoline Museum, Rome. The Persian Sibyl was said to be prophetic priestess presiding over the Apollonian Oracle though her location remained vague enough so that she might be called the "Babylonian Sibyl".