The Persian Sibyl
  • Material: Cornelian Shell, 18 k gold tested.
  • Size:  2 5/8” by 2 2/8” only cameo is 2 1/8” by 1 6/8”.
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1870 Italy, frame could be English.  
  • Conditions: Two natural shell lines not visible from the front, visible from the back or when cameo is backlit, no stress lines at all.
Highest Museum 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.
This is a superbly carved cameo, look how the carver caught all the details from the painting. Her sumptuous dress is magnificently made, her left hand softly rested against her cheek is carved so finely that the hand seems real. 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 this and from all the masterly carved details, you can easily understand why this is a museum quality and rare cameo. This one is a cameo of  surpassing beauty, everything in this cameo is amazingly carved, this cameo seems just like a sculpture. All the details are just perfect.  The frame is gorgeous, elaborately worked 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".