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Each earring in this pair is composed of a carved hardstone cameo depicting a classically dressed female in profile with a garland of roses in her hair. Each cameo is set in a gold mount which features an applied floral wreath and twisted wire rope border. Each earring closes with a hinged wire and hook on the reverse.
Classical Revival (European revival style)
These exquisite chalcedony cameos came from jeweler Diego D'Estrada's shop in Rome. Robert Means Mason and his wife, Sarah, purchased the set along with a set of vest buttons depicting the sights of ancient Rome, possibly on their journey to Europe in 1865. Sarah was an acute asthmatic and the pair often traveled abroad for her health. Unfortunately, Sarah died in the fall of 1865 in Dieppe, France.
"Cherished Possessions": This cameo set was a souvenir, purchased by Bostonian Sarah Mason during one of her trips with her husband to Rome. Italy was the center of cameo production, in part because many of the sculptors who flocked there supplemented their income carving them. With their images of classically draped women, cameos were increasingly popular in the wake of Napoleon's Italian campaign of 1796, which spurred renewed interest in classical imagery.
"DIEGO D' ESTRADA / Fabricant de Beaux Arts / Rome Rue Condotti 32 / 9149149" (Paper Label)
Diego D'Estrada (Jeweler)
1 1/16 x 13/16 x 5/8 (HxWxD) (inches)
Gift of Miss Ellen F. Mason
"Hidden Treasures from Elegant Eras," Historic Jewelry from the Collections of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities presented by Shreve, Crump & Low, September 15 - November 30, 1995. "Cherished Possessions: A New England Legacy," Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, July 2003 to October 2005.
Pictured in Carlisle, Nancy, "Cherished Possessions: A New England Legacy," (2003): 75. For information on cameos see Bennett, David and Daniela Mascetti, "Understanding Jewellery," (1989); Bury, Shirley, "Jewellery, 1789-1910," v. 1 (1991): 215-232; Fales, Martha Gandy, "Jewelry in America, 1600-1900," (1995): 227-236; Miller, Anna M. "Cameos Old & New," 3rd Edition (2005). For history of the Mason family see Winthrop, Robert C., Jr. "Memoir of Robert Means Mason," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society. XVIII, 1881, 302-317.
Rome (Roma province, Latium, Italy)
Title Set of vest buttons Accession Number 1930.160
Title Hair bracelet Accession Number 1930.161
Title Gold brooch Accession Number 1930.162
Title Mother of pearl locket Accession Number 1930.163
Title Hair bracelet Accession Number 1930.165
Title Pair of ivory brooches Accession Number 1930.168
Title Coral pendant Accession Number 1930.169
Title Coral bracelet Accession Number 1930.170
Title Hair brooch Accession Number 1930.171
Title Cross brooch Accession Number 1930.172
Title Gold ring Accession Number 1930.173
Title Gold ring Accession Number 1930.174
Title Gold ring Accession Number 1930.175
Title Silver pendant Accession Number 1930.176
Title Cameo bracelet Accession Number 1930.177
Title Cameo pin Accession Number 1930.178
Title Cameo earrings Accession Number 1930.179
Title Photograph of Mrs. Robert Means Mason (donated by Miss Clara B. Winthrop) Accession Number 1930.1188