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X427

Key information

Object

Cameo: Venus rising from the Waves, North Italian, agate, sixteenth century

Gallery label

Cameo: Venus borne on the waves
Italian
Agate, sixteenth century

This remarkable Renaissance cameo probably shows the birth of Venus. In Classical mythology Venus, the goddess of love, was born from sea foam and blown ashore by the winds. The deeply undercut figure of the goddess is almost detached from the background.

Many wealthy aristocrats formed collections of gems but Sir William was unusual for chosing to collect mainly intaglios (in which the design is carved into the gem) rather than cameos (in which the design stands out in relief). Almost half the gems are ancient, the remainder date from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. Most are now mounted in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century gold rings.

On display?

Yes
image x427_cameo
     
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