This is a fine Renaissance relief carved shell cameo of a bearded nobleman, dating to the 15th - 16th century. Such a work of art would have been mounted into a gold or silver frame, usually with attachment rings to be sewn onto a hat. This fashionable accessory developed from pilgrim badges worn sewn onto hats during the medieval period. This example is made from shell, possibly an oyster shell. The back retains iridescence of the shell where it would have been hidden from view in a mount. The relief is carved with a portrait of a nobleman, with a long pointed beard and embroidered doublet or armour. To me he looks like 'Skanderbeg' a hero who fought against the Ottomans. During the late 15th and 16th century Skanderbeg was celebrated throughout Europe for his defiance and victory over the Ottomans. A cameo of him is in the British Museum SLBCameos.176. Hat jewels such as this were very popular during the late medieval and Tudor periods, further example can be found in the British Museum 1915,1216.136, V&A 630-1884, 473-1873 and Getty Museum 85.SE.238.
This is a very nice object, certainly worthy of further research!
OBJECT: Hat Badge
DATE: c. 1450 - 1550 A.D.
SIZE: 27.41mm x 25.03mm x 6.10mm
WEIGHT: 4.36 grams
PROVENANCE: Ex. G. Krause Collection, Netherlands.
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