Ref GG10 Saulini Cameo of Antinous
A Horned Helmet shell cameo by Saulini, in a high-carat gold mount with rope-twist embellishment, circa 1870. The subject is Antinous, favourite of the Emperor Hadrian, who was idealised as an example of perfect male beauty. He is depicted in profile with fruiting vines wreathing his flowing hair. The carving is based on an ancient bust of Antinous depicted as Dionysus-Bacchus in the Palazzo Aldobrandini, Rome. The cameo comes in a fitted case with label Saulini Roma. It is accompanied by a charming letter detailing its history and provenance - such a rare item found accompanying a piece of antique jewellery. [The letter is reproduced at the bottom of this page]. The brooch measures 2 and 1/2 by 2 and 1/8 inches and the cameo measures 1 and 3/4 by 2 inches. The carving is immaculate.
Bust of Antinous, depicted as Dionysus-Bacchus, in the Palazzo Aldobrandini.
The letter :
Percy Lodge, Ladbroke Grove Road, NW
1st Nov 1873
My Dear Mrs MacDonnell,
I am very sorry I was not well enough to write on Thursday as I wished, but I take an opportunity this evening. As regards the Cameo Brooch, I will mention first what it is. It was executed [in his best style] by the Chevalier Saulini of Rome; who was knighted by the Government for his supreme excellence as a Cameo Sculptor. He was admitted to be the finest and most finished sculptor of that kind, who ever lived. He had retired in a splendid house when I saw him; and I purchased it from himself; and he kindly got it set in fine gold, according to his own antique taste. It is a faithful copy from a life-sized ancient Greek head of Bacchus from the Palazzo Aldobrandini at Rome; it is an exquisite work. I mention these particulars because the ordinary run of people - even among jewellers - would not be at all aware of its interest or value; unless they knew something of the art, and the facts connected with it.............
I remain sincerely yours,