- Material: Sardonyx Shell, 18K gold tested.
- Size: just over 2 2/8" by 1 7/8", not counting the bale. Only cameo is 2" by 1 5/8".
- Date and Origin: Circa 1860 Italy.
- Conditions: Mint.
Museum Quality cameo in very high relief depicting Saint George slaying the dragon. Amazing carving. Because the carving is very white it is hard to photograph, the more the shell is dark the more the carving results white and more the shell is dark more it is valuable. Seen in person you can see even the tiniest details. A rare subject when you find it so superbly carved. The facial features, even with the strong contrast with the dark background, are well shown in the pictures. Look at the caparison worn by the horse, it is superbly engraved, really amazing. Even the figure of St. George is so well proportioned and all the muscles of his body are clearly shown. This is a three-dimensional cameo, the carving is high relieved. This subject really jumps out from the shell. This is one of most beautiful Saint George I have ever seen, the pictures speak by themselves. The frame is classic and elegant, just right for this piece. This is another masterly carved cameo. A very desirable collectors piece, rare and highest quality cameo.
A bit of History:
According to the Golden Legend the narrative episode of Saint George and the Dragon took place in a place he called Silene, in Libya. There was no such place, the name being perhaps a corruption of Cyrene. The Golden Legend is the first to place this legend in Libya, as a sufficiently exotic locale, where a dragon might be imagined. This town had a pond large as a lake where a plague-bearing dragon dwelled that envenomed all the countryside. To appease the dragon, the people of Silene used to feed it a sheep every day, and when the sheep failed, they fed it their children, chosen by lottery. It happened that the lot fell on the king's daughter. The king, distraught with grief, told the people they could have all his gold and silver and half of his kingdom if his daughter were spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, decked out as a bride, to be fed to the dragon. Saint George by chance rode past the lake. The princess, trembling, sought to send him away, but George vowed to remain. The dragon reared out of the lake while they were conversing. Saint George fortified himself with the Sign of the Cross charged it on horseback with his lance and gave it a grievous wound. Then he called to the princess to throw him her girdle and put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a meek beast on a leash. She and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the people at its approach. But Saint George called out to them, saying that if they consented to become Christians and be baptised he would slay the dragon before them. The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity, George slew the dragon, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. "Fifteen thousand men baptized, without women and children." On the site where the dragon died, the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured all disease Traditionally, the lance with which St. George slew the dragon was called Ascalon, a name recalling the city of Ashkelon, Israel. From this tradition, the name Ascalon was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during World War II (records at Bletchley Park), since St. George is the Patron Saint of England.