Featured Cameo Art Help Needed

Discussion in 'Art' started by Bronwen, Jan 31, 2022.

  1. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    One of the things cameo lovers do is to try to identify the persons or scenes depicted and further to identify the work of fine art or literature that was the primary source. We already have a thread for cases where we know the cameo/art work pair. This thread is to enlist those of you who are knowledgeable about art but who may not follow the Jewelry forum in helping to find the originals behind some intriguing cameos.

    Some of the artists whose work is often the inspiration for cameo scenes: Thorvaldsen; Canova; Gibson; Flaxman; Raphael; Reni; il Guercino; Domenichino. Portraits of historical persons tend to be taken from medallions or coins. Literature, especially the tellings of classical mythology by authors such as Ovid, and the Bible, inspired much of the sculpture and painting.

    First up: I am not the only one who has been baffled by this little piece of mine. A glyptics scholar friend saw it as Abraham and Isaac, which never seemed right to me.


    As is the way of the universe, eventually spotted these two cameos, which give my two figures some context:


    The man at the center of the scene has a pedum leaning against his shoulder, used for herding the cattle (oxen?) They are mortals, not gods. What is transpiring here? Who are these people? All ideas and suggestions welcome. TYIA
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2022
  2. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    Good idea for a thread! I don't know the answer... wanted to let you know that the link in your first post doesn't work for me.
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  3. antidiem

    antidiem Well-Known Member

    Does the one in a skirt look Roman to you? He does to me... ;)
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  4. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Thanks for letting me know. Just learned something about using links within the site. Think it's working now. Let me know if not.
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  5. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    He does look like he's wearing part of a Roman soldier's armor, at least as we see it in the movies. To me he looks unclad above the waist? Do we agree that the figure on the far right is a youth, not a maiden?

    My cameo gives a very different idea of what the narrative might be. There the youth seems to be shrinking away from the exchange between the bearded men; on the other 2 he looks like he is attracted by the transaction. I am stuck with the idea that the one man wants to trade the cattle for the youth, son or servant of the other man, who is resisting the deal.

    This is a bit like a psychology test, isn't it? Make up a story from this picture. Now that I've poisoned your mind with my take, what's yours?
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  6. Figtree3

    Figtree3 What would you do if you weren't afraid?

    It works now. :)
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  7. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    Joseph sold to the Ishmaelite merchants, who in turn sold him in Egyot?
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  8. PepperAnna

    PepperAnna Well-Known Member

    I, too, thought of that, but I think Joseph was sold for money, not oxen.
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  9. Any Jewelry

    Any Jewelry Well-Known Member

    I didn't think of the oxen as currency, just as animals they had with them. They traditionally had dromedaries as beasts of burden, but could have had oxen to sell in Egypt. So merchandise, just like Joseph. Maybe I'm filling in too many blanks.;)
  10. bluumz

    bluumz Quite Busy

    My first impression... bear in mind my knowledge of the Bible is very rusty and was never extensive...
    I see an older man trying to sell a young man (his son?) to a rich man... well, maybe not "rich" but a man who at least has the money (and need) for oxen. Basically, to me the presence of the oxen indicates a man (buyer) with the money/ability to afford a purchase of the youth.
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  11. bluumz

    bluumz Quite Busy

    Bronwen, it almost looks like your cameo has been further "interpreted" by the carver... looking almost like Joseph escaping from Potifar's wife... though I don't see that Joseph is ever depicted sporting a beard.
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  12. antidiem

    antidiem Well-Known Member

    Definitely unclad above the waist. I agree the far right is a male.
    LOL : TV-movies Roman dress is all I've ever seen! :cat::smuggrin:

    Oh, bluumz, what a good mind-eye you have! :smug: No idea if it's the right depiction, but it's a good story! ;)

    Bronwen, in the last 2 cameo examples, the hand of the man on the left is awkwardly "hidden" behind the boy. Does it look like there is a ring on that hand? Something he is hiding from the man? Or just an awkward hand job? ;)
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  13. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    I hadn't thought of this Biblical sale. Wouldn't there be more men involved, the brothers? At least it's something new to consider.

    It just happened yesterday when I was poking around about this that I read in passing a statement that cattle were currency, back in the day.
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  14. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    That is precisely the way I read it. A somewhat different take is just occurring to me: although he is not using force, is the central figure demanding the youth in repayment of a debt?

    I have reason to believe that my cameo is older than the other 2. That still doesn't mean that it's the one most faithful to the original. In these 3, the more clothes the youth has been given, the less shy he seems.

    How would that story fit this scene?
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  15. PepperAnna

    PepperAnna Well-Known Member

    I believe the Bible says that Joseph is sold for 20 sheckels of silver. I found an engraving of Joseph being sold into slavery that is interesting for the garment one of the men is wearing. It is similar to the gentleman with the cattle- I marked him with a blue arrow. To the right in the engraving, the brothers are getting paid a bag of silver. Maybe a camel was too hard to carve?

    In looking at Bronwen's cameo- to me the youth seems more like a slave- naked and his arms seem to be behind his back (shackles or rope?). The other two cameos have the youth clothed with his arms free.

    joseph sold to ishmaelites 1.jpg
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  16. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    Think you mean the man on the right?

    I think he is just protecting the youth. It would have been easier to hide an arm than to have to do both of them in front like the first one. Not seeing a ring or anything being hidden. You get that with Rebecca at the Well; Eliezer hiding a bangle behind his back. The last 2 clearly have a common source, not necessarily the primary source. Cameos no doubt got copied from other cameos.

    I'm going to leave that last bit without comment. ;)
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  17. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    He does gestalt a lot like oxen guy. Think they are all wearing those short, soft skirts. In the most elaborated cameo version the skirt looks paneled. May not be a significant difference, could be artistic license.

    Yes, he seems pretty helpless, doesn't he? The man he is with seems to be simultaneously holding him back in a protective way & gesturing in a way that invites the other guy to take a good look. It's seriously confusing without the key to understanding it.
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  18. antidiem

    antidiem Well-Known Member

    yes, dyscalculia sorry
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  19. Bronwen

    Bronwen Well-Known Member

    A new one to batter our brains against. I call it the Separated Lovers. I don't think the story represented is from classical mythology; Biblical, a Romance, etc.



    Mine has some alterations.


    It would help if the lovers stayed the same age from cameo to cameo. Presumably that is dad hauling him off, so the young man can't be too old. Isn't it usually the young lady whose parents want to break things up? Does dad think they're too young? Or that she's not good enough for him? The dog may indicate that she's a shepherdess.
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  20. bluumz

    bluumz Quite Busy

    LOL, with the young man's state of undress, it looks like they were caught in flagrante delicto. ;)
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