Stunning Georgian Gilt Hardstone Intaglio Brooch
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Directory: Estate Jewelry: Gold: Pre Victorian: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 127815
GlitzQueen History and Art to Wear
(Reduced from $355)
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Our impressive intaglio brooch features the head of a Trojan War hero (perhaps Achilles), unless I miss my guess. Remember the phrase "long-haired Achaeans" from Homer? Those look to me like curls at the base of his helmet!
As a Greek Revival piece, the jewel likely dates from the Late Georgian or Regency period. It was in 1806, when Lord Elgin brought pieces of the Parthenon from Athens to London, that the English passion for the purity of Greek design was ignited. Like the intaglio, exquisitely carved from extremely dark amber, the construction of this piece has a very early look: It's built up architecturally, in layers, with abundant detail. There's a small hook on the crossbar at the back, for hanging a watch, another jewel or chatelaine items.
I'm not sure about the underlying metal, since most of the rose gold gilding remains intact, but it's most likely silver since that's the color of the clasp hook. The other side of the clasp is absolutely fascinating: the pin hinge is encased in a sort of tulip form. There are signs that the pin stem has been shortened; it's blunter than you'd expect and under magnification looks a little ragged on the end.
The intaglio measures a little larger than 1/2" square and its condition is excellent. Overall size of the brooch is about 1-3/4" by 1-1/4" and its condition is very good. Please note that the left ball-shaped cap is missing on the long horizontal piece. No doubt a competent jeweler could easily replace it. If the brooch were perfect, of course it would cost a great deal more, given the superlative quality of the intaglio.
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