A Renaissance Revival Carved Opal Cameo Pendant
A Renaissance Revival carved opal cameo pendant, the cameo attributed to Wilhelm Schmidt depicting Arion riding a dolphin, to elaborate surround of renaissance style incorporating scrolls and two griffins, bearing polychrome enamel decorations and encrusted with two rose-cut diamonds, to a closed back bearing enamel decorations depicting a column surrounded by the Latin word COLUMNAE, terminating to a pearl drop, all suspended by three pearl-set chains with a scrolling upper section set with a faceted emerald, all mounted in gold, circa 1880, measuring approximately 11×3.5cm, gross weight 26.5 grams.
Footnote: Wilhelm Schmidt in correspondance:
“In reply to your wish to be informed when opal cameos were first cut in Europe, I may mention the date of 1874, when I invented the new process of cutting opal cameos in such a manner as to utilise the matrix of rough opal for the ground… Mr John Brogden exhibited the first one, which I cut, amongst his other exhibits at the Paris Exhibition, 1878…”
A magnificent and important Renaissance revival pendant. This pendant features an upper section with a verdant and bright emerald, from which is suspended three chains set with lustrous pearls. Hanging from the chains is a spectacular framed cameo depicting the Ancient Greek poet Arion, who, in Greek folklore, was said to have been rescued by a dolphin while lost at sea. The cameo is carved from opal and is attributed to William Schmidt, who invented a new process for cutting opals in 1874. Opal cameos are rare due to the fragility of the stone, and Schmidt used blanks covered with a thin layer of opal. Surrounding the cameo is a frame of bright gold with wonderful and colourful enamel detail, and a single lustrous pearl drop. This piece incorporates both Renaissance and Ancient Greek styles to create a true masterpiece of late Victorian craftsmanship and design. Schmidt never signed his work but produced many carved opals which have been later attributed to him, some examples of which today can be found in the Natural History Museum, London, the British Museum, and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Should you choose to make this purchase we would be delighted to send it to you in a Bentley & Skinner handmade leather case packed in a giftwrapped Bentley & Skinner black and gold presentation box. Shortly afterwards we will send you on a complimentary valuation of this item for insurance purposes for your reference and safekeeping.