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Cameo - Dancing female figure

Dancing female figure

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    late 18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved white onyx

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a cameo made in the 18th century in Italy. The cameo is carved in white onyx and depicts a draped female figure formerly on a porphyry pedestal.

The art of engraving gemstones can be traced back to ancient Greece in the 8th century BC and earlier. Techniques passed down to the Egyptians and then to the Romans. There were major revivals of interest in engraved gems in Europe during the Byzantine era, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and again in the 18th and 19th centuries. At each stage cameos and intaglios, these skillful carvings on a minute scale, were much prized and collected, sometimes as symbols of power mounted in jewelled settings, sometimes as small objects for private devotion or enjoyment.
Many gems were carved in the neo-classical style popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s, when taste in the arts echoed the subject matter and style of the Greek and Roman masters. Thousands of gems were made in this style in Italy and brought back by British Grand Tourists, who went there to visit the newly-discovered classical antiquities and archaeological sites.

Physical description

Carved white onyx cameo depicting a draped female figure formerly on a porphyry pedestal.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


late 18th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Carved white onyx


Height: 30.5 mm, Width: 15.5 mm

Object history note

Bought from the ex Webb Collection in 1874.

Descriptive line

Cameo, fragment, carved onyx, depicting a female figure, Italy, 18th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

List of Objects in the Art Division, South Kensington, Acquired During the Year 1874, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., p. 20



Subjects depicted

Female figure


Sculpture; Gemstones


Sculpture Collection

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