Ancient Greek and Roman mythology appears to give us only a muse for music and her name was Euterpe, one of 7 sisters who were proclaimed to inspire. While describing the newest consignment of Carnelian shell cameos my research pulled up that the enticing figure in this 4 cm oval shaped pendant framed in 18K gold could only be a muse, since the only deity of music was Apollo – a man ! THE MOUSAI (Muses) were the goddesses of music, song and dance, and the source of inspiration to poets. Pierino Neri, the artist who carved this particular cameo, choose to use the contours of the shell and hand carve a lyre by her side instead of the more commonly found double flute.
The Bull mouth or Red Helmet sea shell, also known as the carnelian shell, were discovered to have layers of strongly contrasting colors and the shells were large enough to be perfect for carving cameos making them ideal for carving into cameos. The vivid colors and contours of the shell become are both the objective and the challenge that each artist is confronted with as they decide what image and how to portray it.
Our Eutrepe has fine details in her hair, the laurel wreath encircling her head and the folds of the gown. It is quite impressive how the artists creates an entire story of time, beauty and depth while portraying only one element.