Roman Onyx Cameo in a Gold Pendant
This striking piece is a Roman cameo mounted in a modern gold setting, together comprising an attractive and wearable piece of ancient art. The background stone is onyx, with a deep black and solid lustre against which the cameo stands out in strong contrast. The image depicted is a facing head of Medusa, the mythical snake-headed gorgon of Greek mythology, which was much admired by the Romans and which was incorporated into their own literature following the influx of Greeks into Graecia Magna (Southern Italy) in the latter part of the first millennium B.C.E..
Cameos were very popular among the Romans, who used them as seals, wore them as jewellery, and elevated what was a somewhat marginal art form to a major sculptural technique with supreme masterworks such as the Portland Vase, carved by an unnamed master, and currently in the British Museum, London.