Greatly detailed and flawless, this cameo from a Boston estate was hand-carved in high relief from one piece of sardonyx (showing white on a tea-colored ground, when held to light). The jewel measures 3 inches long, with a setting that tests at 10K gold.
Interestingly, the pretty lady's features seem quite real, rather than idealized, so I believe it was produced as a portrait and likely worn by her husband to secure the voluminous neckcloths worn by fashionable gentlemen in this era. The wealthiest visitors to Italy, often on their honeymoon trips, did have portrait cameos made there. The generic cameos produced later, usually of shell, were for the mass market.
Probable dating circa 1770-90 derives from the subject (wearing a typically late 18th century fichu and hairstyle), the textured pattern on the pin and the fact that the cameo is diminutive and of hardstone, not shell.
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