Rarest Cameo of Venus and Mars by Saulini
  • Material: Sardonyx Shell.
  • Size: 2 2/32" by 1 6/8".
  • Date and Origin: Italy circa 1850, signed Saulini F.  The Subject is after a sculpture of Antonio Canova, 1816-1822, now in the Courtauld Institute Gallery, London, UK.
  • Conditions: some very slight internal lines, not stress, only visible when cameo is backlit, almost not visible when cameo is seen from the front, (always remind that pictures are strongly enlarged) on Mars right hip I can see something who seems to me as a smallest shell piece, perhaps added to hide a carving imperfection, it almost not noticeable by naked eye.
A fantastic Highest Museum Quality cameo depicting Venus and Mars after a sculpture of Antonio Canova, the cameo reproduces perfectly the original artwork, the only different thing is the leaf on Mars' genital which is present on the sculpture and not on the cameo. The body of Mars is perfect, you can even see the muscles of his calves which are perfectly rendered like the other everywhere on his body which is a triumph of force and virility. Venus also is depicted in a sublime way, it is evident her love for Mars. He too shows his love for her but in a more protective way, you can understand it looking at how his arm is leant on Venus shoulder. Look at her and at how she's looking at him, her expression is of a complete adoration, it is pure love. This cameo radiates love and passion and this is just what the carver meant to express when he carved this artwork. This cameo is one of the ones that I call "soul cameos" because when looking at them you can feel deeply emotions as only artworks can give. The small round piece of shell, I think it is so, added to the right hip of Mars, is so tiny and the work has been so perfectly made that it is really unnoticeable, you can't really see it without a loupe. However this cameo is the perfection  and being from the Saulini studio it had to be so. The carving is very high relieved, have a look at the area where Mars holds his spear. A very rare subject, this is the first time that I find one and with such a carving! A true collectors piece.   A fantastic cameo to not to be missed.
A bit of history:
Mars (Latin), son of Juno (Hera in Greek mythology) and Jupiter (Zeus in Greek mythology)  is, according to the Roman classical mythology, the God of war, according to the archaic Roman mythology the God of thunder, of  rain and of  fertility. Initially identified with the etruscan God Maris, God of fertility, of nature, a warlike God and not of the war. Subsequently Mars as the Greek god Ares was assigned to the role of God of war. Mars in the Roman society assumed a more important role of the Greek (Ares) counterpart because he was considered the husband of Rea Silvia and father of Romulus and Remus that founded Rome. Mars was considered the father of the Roman people and the Romans were used to call themselves children of Mars. The month of March, the day Tuesday and the planet Mars due to him their name. Venus (in Latin Venus, in Greek Aphrodite) is the name of the Goddess of  love in Greek and Roman mythology, daughter of Zeus and Dione. From her union with Anchises, Aeneas (the most important hero of the Aeneid) would have been born.  In the mythology, Venus and Mars are usually lovers or fierce enemies, often both the things at the same time. Jung (the philosopher) has described the complexity of the relationship male-female " the power of  love, of  passion that pushes two opposite poles to unite, to a strong resistance that holds them separate it corresponds a vehement attraction that pushes them to unite. Venus and Mars concern the female and masculine aspect of the desire and the sexuality, extraordinarily powerful strengths that appear with the adolescence and extremely powerful in the psyche with Venus that represents the strength of attraction and Mars the assertive strength. Venus tries to attract and, in effects she chooses, Mars that tries to compete and to win. The love among the God of the war Mars and the Goddess of the love Venus was a very dear theme to the painters in Renaissance era that were inspired from these mythological themes.