Lot 121
  • 121

Silver-Gilt, Gold, Carved Shell Cameo, Micromosaic and Seed Pearl Pendant, Nicolo Morelli, Early 19th Century

10,000 - 15,000 USD
34,375 USD
bidding is closed


  • silver-gilt, gold, carved shell, seed pearl, pendant
Centering an oval carved shell cameo featuring a Bacchanalian procession with a woman seated in a chariot drawn by two panthers accompanied by a male reveler drinking from a wine skin and a satyr brandishing clusters of grapes, signed N. Morelli, the surrounding frame of silver-gilt inlaid with a micromosaic of scrolling foliate motif with the initials N J below, probably for Napoleon and Josephine, and flanking doves towards the top of the frame, the gold pendant loop of later date with the letter 'J' accented by small seed pearls.  With fitted box.

Catalogue Note

Nicolo Morelli (1771-1830) a noted Roman gem engraver, was patronized by Napoleon I who viewed cameos as the embodiments of the classical ideal.  Napoleon founded a school for gem engraving and in 1805 established a Prix de Rome for this art form, which he regarded equal to paintings and sculpture. 

See L. Forrer, Biographical Dictionary of Medallist, Vol. IV p. 147 and Vol. VIII p. 76; and for other gems by Morelli see J.D. Draper, 'Cameo Appearances', The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Spring 2008, p. 42, nos. 88-89; and C. Gere, The Art of the Jeweller, A Catalogue of the Hull Grundy Gift to the British Museum, Vol. I. p. 131, no. 86.