Description & Technical information

The necklace and bracelet respectively with six and five graduated oval shaped nicolo intaglios, each carved through the transluscent grey-white top layer to the grey-brown ground to depict a miniature scene featuring Cupid with various attributes or creatures, mounted in a bead and wirework gold frame set with emeralds and rubies alternately spaced and divided by black and white enamel leaf motifs, the six to the necklace spaced by smaller three-stone openwork trefoil clusters set with rubies and emerald, all hung from a gold foxtail link rope, the bracelet with gold bead and wirework quatrefoil joins, the brooch and clips en suite, the clips with later fittings.

BRACELET

From Box to tongue:

1. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid teasing a dog, who jumps up to reach what he is holding. The dog is symbolic of love and fidelity.

2. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid riding a low chariot pulled by a pair of swans.

3. Central nicolo intaglio depicting Cupid as victory; the winged figure stood in a small chariot holding a victor’s crown in one hand and a palm in the other, attributes of the gods displayed in the chariot; a trident for Neptune, a caduceus for Mercury, a helmet for Mars and a club for Hercules, a second Cupid who astride a small horse urges on the winged griffin galloping beside him.

4. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid in a landscape escorting two goats which he holds on reins. This is a version of R. Raspe & J. Tassie, Descriptive Catalogue of Engraved Gems (1791) no. 6744, associating Cupid with Bacchus, whose followers wore goatskins to their revels.

5. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid in a landscape approaching a long necked bird, perhaps an ostrich, perched on a rock.

BROOCH & PAIR OF CLIPS

1. Nicolo intaglio depicting a female Victory; the winged figure stood in a small chariot holding a victor’s crown in one hand and a palm in the other, attributes of various gods displayed in the chariot; a trident for Neptune, a caduceus for Mercury, a helmet for Mars and a club for Hercules, a second Cupid who astride a small horse urges on the winged griffin galloping beside him

2. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid holding a thyrsus in one hand, reins in the other, standing in a chariot driven by two cocks. Cf.R. Raspe & J. Tassie, Descriptive Catalogue of Engraved Gems (1791) no. 6776. Cocks were regarded by the ancient Greeks and Romans not only as fighting birds but as love gifts.

3. Nicolo intaglio of Neptune, the divinity who rules over the oceans, shouldering his trident riding a hippocamp across the waves.


NECKLACE

1. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid standing on a shell holding the reins to guide two hippocamps across the waves, signifying that he is victorius over the seas as well as on land.

2. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid holding whip over a pair of dolphins who are carrying him over the sea, signifying his sovereignty over the sea as well as on land.

3. Nicolo intaglio of Venus seated on two hippocamps, similar to Paoletti Vol. 5, no.22

4. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid holding an arrow in one hand and in the other reins controlling a winged griffin and sea horse, watched by a bird.

5. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid riding in a chariot and holding the reins, drawn by two prancing goats.

6. Nicolo intaglio of Cupid in a chariot, bow in one hand, reins in the other, drawn by two swans, sacred to his mother Venus, R. Paspe & J. Tassie, Descriptive Catalogue of Engraved Gems (1791) no. 6767. As the swans were sacred to Venus, the intaglio conveys the message: Love Conducts Me

The charm of this set of nicolo intaglios is that they are linked iconographically, for almost every one illustrates Cupid, involved in various activities, triumphing over land and sea, like a victorious hero. They are light hearted interpretations of ancient models in the rococo revival taste of late 18th century or early 19th century date. Giovanni Pichler, his half brother Luigi, and Giovanni Antonio Santarelli all engraved variants of the nicolo intaglios listed above.
Length of necklace 39.5cm / 15½''
Length of bracelet 19cm / 7½''
Length of brooch 4.8cm / 1 7/8''
Length of clip 2.8cm / 1 1/8''
Weight: 156g

Date:  1820
Period:  Early 19th century
Origin:  Italian
Medium: Ruby, Emerald, Agate, gold
Categories: Jewellery