Ivory Cameo of a Bacchante
  • Material: Ivory, 9k gold, not marked.
  • Size:  2 5/8"  by just over 2".
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1870, France probably Dieppe.
  • Conditions: Perfect, some scratches on the back, some old glue on the back, more than normal as it was often used to make jewels more secure in frames.
Excellent Quality cameo depicting a Bacchante. They were followers of Bacchus the God of wine (Dionysus is the Greek name). Bunches of grapes and wine leaves in her hair.  She also is holding bunches of grapes with her dress. While bacchantes, as cameo subject, were very popular in the Victorian era, finding one carved in full body is quite rare.  This subject really  jumps out from its base, everything is so realistic, this cameo seems just like a sculpture.  The pictures speak by themselves. Look at them and you'll be amazed by all the details that are perfectly carved. This is surely the fruit of a great master carver that with his ability, his skill and his art was able to make in the ivory a real work of art. This is another masterly carved cameo. A very desirable collectors piece, rare and museum quality cameo.
A bit of History:
In Greek mythology, maenads (Bacchantes) were the female followers of Dionysus, the most significant members of the Thiasus, the retinue of Dionysus. The maenads were also known as Bacchae or Bacchantes in Roman mythology, after the penchant of the equivalent Roman god, Bacchus, to wear a fox-skin. Their name literally translates as "raving ones". Often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by him into a state of ecstatic frenzy, through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear animals (and sometimes men and children) to pieces, devouring the raw flesh. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped by a cluster of leaves; they would weave ivy-wreaths and fruiting vines around their heads, and often handle or wear snakes.