Victorian Rare 18kt "Pâte-Sur-Pâte" Figural Mythology Pin/Pendant
Pâte-sur-pâte is a French term meaning "paste-on-paste." Developed in 1850, this artistic technique produces an image in relief, with the application of multiple layers of white slip (white clay in liquid form). The slip is applied to an unfired, unglazed base, allowing the image to emerge from the solid colored background. Usually found in antique pottery and ceramics (such as vases and dishes), pâte-sur-pâte was sometimes used in jewelry, although more uncommonly so.
This outstanding piece from the Victorian era (ca1880) era is a wonderful example of the pâte-sur–pâte technique! Crafted in 18kt gold, the convertible pin/pendant is exceptionally detailed. At the center is a fine pâte-sur-pâte plaque, surrounded by an elaborate figural frame. Multiple figures can be found throughout the setting, which appear to be mythological in nature. Included are expressive bearded faces, two horned goats, and the profiles of soldiers with winged helmets. Additional ornamentation includes an array of swirls, scrolls, and flourishes in gold.
The pâte-sur–pâte plaque at the center is held in an engraved bezel setting, and resembles a cameo in appearance. The dark background has a semi-translucent quality, revealing a deep cobalt blue color that is visible when held to the light. Emerging from the background is an applied image, which forms a painting in soft, wispy white details. The image depicts a woman wrapped in shrouds of of light, gauzy fabric. With one hand she shields her eyes from the sun; in the other hand she holds what appears to be a sword or staff. On the back of the piece is a hook bail at the top, and a secure bar pin and clasp, allowing it to be hung from a chain or fastened to a favorite garment. This rare and unusual work of art is perfect for the serious antique jewelry collector!
Measurement: The piece measures approximately 2 1/4" tall, 1 1/2" wide, and 1/4" thick.
Condition: The overall condition of the pin/pendant is excellent. Besides normal surface wear, there is no apparent damage to the gold framework or to the pâte-sur-pâte design. The hook bail and pin clasp are both intact and securely set. There is a light patina on the surface of the gold setting, which is a normal characteristic of antique jewelry, and adds further depth to the textured detail.