The Art of engraving Cameos

The engraving on Cameo is an art that has its roots way back in history. Each cameo is a work of sculpture in miniature, beloved by collectors since the fourth century BC
The antique cameos reveal the manners, customs, philosophies, beliefs, social and historical events that have marked our past. Only recently we have associated the name "Cameo" with profiles of beautiful women, sometimes engraved bad, only products to meet consumer tastes. In fact, the range of subjects still to be engraved cameo is huge. Here we describe the development of the cameo from its inception to the modern day. A fascinating story.

The Cameo, a term of uncertain origin and discussed, indicating in itself 'a bas-relief made through the incision on shell.
This type of work is part of an era that can be found around 1830.
And is the early nineteenth century, which includes the presence of cameos in Torre del Greek, by a handful of Roman artists, by ancient tradition experts engraving on precious stones. It is perhaps due to these years the first experiments to make small bas-reliefs from the fragments of shell, less resistant to impact.
The way to the success of the shell is meanwhile a further boost in two facts apparently very far apart, but equally effective: the arrival of enormous quantities of shells, that ships from Africa use as ballast, and the crisis It will weigh on the laboratories of the Greek Tower in the years 1875 to 1880, when the discovery of Sciacca rich coral reefs will determine not only the saturation of the market, but the deterioration of all types of work.

But such shells are used to obtain cameos? And why the background color varies from salmon pink to brown?
The shells more suited to this type of processing all come from distant seas and obviously have different characteristics, both in shape and size to that color. The most widely used of the species Cassis which fall three types suited to emphasize the incision, thanks to the provision of a more intense color.
The shell is the quintessential Cassis coming from Central America, commonly called "sardonic" and about a foot high. It has a bottom and brown-brown on the outside (the intended incision) is perfectly white.
A wheel follows the Cassis Rufa, called "carnelian", generally of African origin, high about half 'of the "sardonic", with a fund tending to reddish and the outside of a weak carnacino. Always belongs to the same family also Cassis cornuta, called "Orange" by the particular color of the background, and 'high about twenty-five centimeters.

Matter and 'humble, and that remains even if the artist's hand intervenes to redeem it. The fate of the shell, in fact, does not differ much from that of a painting in relation to the painting for which it is used. The value and 'round and exclusively in the quality of the painting. This explains what record has the skill of the engraver, his creativity, his taste than the shell on which it operates.