Intricately Carved Lava Cameo Brooch Showing Cupid and the Lion with Graduated Pearls

If you find yourself in the town of Torre del Greco, on the Gulf of Naples, I highly recommend that you make a visit to La Pizzaccia a top priority. Ask for Federico, the chef, although he’ll probably show up before you can, and let him tell you what to order. The menu changes daily according to what’s fresh and it doesn’t really matter what you get because one dish is just as delicious as the next. Then overindulge a bit in their delicious wine and a bit of gelato and stay overnight in this wonderful Napolese town. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and harbor filled with lovely fishing boats and sparkling seas. Keep in mind, though, that in 79 AD it wasn’t so wonderful, when the horrific eruption of Mount Vesuvius buried the area under tons and tons of debris. What was a life ending event for the ancient Romans would eventually become a boon for the residents of the 18th and 19th centuries as the residents of Torre del Greco used the lava stone deposited by that massive event to carve intricate and detailed cameos which they sold to the tourist trade, especially those taking the ‘Grande Tour’ of Europe during Victorian times.

This wonderful cameo most likely finds its origins in that place and at that time. It depicts the allegory of ‘Love Conquers All’, which is drawn from Ovid and Virgil and features a winged Cupid who has subdued a lion. The cameo is carved in lava stone of a deep putty color kissed with green and is set into a frame of 18 karat gold with a line of graduated pearls at the bottom. The lava carving itself likely dates to about 1870, but the frame is later, probably 1920s. Overall this brooch measures 35.5 mm north to south and 42.4 mm across and weighs 13.3 grams. The pin stem has a safety clasp for added security and some care should be taken with this piece as lava is a somewhat fragile material. The patination of this piece adds to its beauty and I would not recommend cleaning the face of the brooch at all.

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Item ID: BH0910273VS

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