Filed under: Accessories, Autumn, BBC, Costume Dramas, Emma, Etsy, Fall, Fashion, Fripperies, Jane Austen, Regency, Trinkets
I have just been watching the new BBC adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and pronounce it to be [horribly quoting from the wrong book, but never mind] “Tolerable“. Well that’s a little unkind, it doesn’t have anything bad about it, really, but neither is it particularly electrifying. Everyone is doing their turn and doing it well enough – it’s perfect Autumnal Sunday evening viewing, so we can’t complain. Eye-candy abounds in home decor, winsome peaches & cream complexions and well-fitting breeches scattered liberally about the scenery.
Watch a preview clip:
In my mind, Jane Austen adaptations are forever entwined with cameos in my mind. I have no idea why. Well, actually that’s a lie. When I was a little girl, I had a collected edition of Austen’s novels that had a large picture of a cameo on the front cover. Therefore, Austen = Cameo and Cameo = Austen in my easily-befuddled head. So there.
Cameos have a truly fascinating history as fashionable pieces of wearable art – I have always been attracted to their strikingly simple beauty yet decadently intricate appeal. My mother introduced them to me – we would spend hours looking in antique shop windows, gazing longingly at the images and wondering who they depicted and who wore them…
The following snippets of information are from Anna M. Miller’s book, Cameos Old & New – a brilliant resource for those wishing to further their knowledge on this subject.
- Early Greek and Roman carvings featured images of gods and goddesses, themes from mythology, beautiful women and biblical events.
- Many cameos through history depict living heroes or rulers.
- In the Hellenistic era young women used cameos as charms to express desire. A woman could wear a cameo depicting a dancing Eros as a seductive invitation to love.
- During the Renaissance, Pope Paul II was an avid cameo collector. According to history, this love ultimately led to his death. His excessive display of carved gems and stones on his fingers kept his hands so cold that he caught the chill that meant his death.
- Cameos have been used on helmets and military accessories like breastplates and sword handles, on rings and other jewelry, and on vases, cups and dishes.
- Women began collecting cameos to prove cultural status during the Elizabethan period. At the same time, tourist travels to the ruins of Pompeii were on the rise and women began collecting shell and lava cameos as souvenirs to remember their travel.
- During the 18th century, men purchased carved gems to mark their prestige and culture.
- Cameos enchanted Napoléon, who wore a cameo to his own wedding and founded a school in Paris to teach the art of cameo carving to young apprentices.
- Not until the nineteenth century, when the popularity of shell cameos grew — reducing the use of hardstones or agate — did profiles become as popular a subject matter as they are today.
If you click on the above picture of the utterly jaw-dropping French Baroque cameo, you’ll be taken to a page where you may read more about the history of how cameos are made. Or you can order the cameo and buy me a house with the money left in your wallet. Alternatively – and perhaps a little more affordable for the rest of us – you may choose to peruse my cameo-inspired choices from various lovely Etsy sellers…
Direct links to items shown:
In case you have been living in a cupboard, Louise Black is currently starring in the current series of Project Runway. She has long been one of my favourite Etsy designers and I lust after one of these corsets (though to be perfectly honest, my corset wearing days are likely over. Let’s face it. I’m likely to get more use of one of her gorgeous cuffs. But OH look at the corset… *le-sigh*
I do think the cameo dress in my above selection is a very wearable piece, though. For those of us less blessed in the leg department, one may choose to team it with leggings (even I have succumbed to leggings this season!) or extremely opaque tights and either cute ballet flats or knee-boots.
Another effortless wearable (and affordable!) piece that I didn’t have room for in my initial selection but still wanted to share with you, is this delightful Marie Antoinette Cameo Shirt by Thirty Three Degrees:
Finally, I just have to include this dinky little cat cameo cushion by Kerry Kate – I know I want one in my house!
Well, I think I have probably prattled on long enough for today, my dearies, so until next time…
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