An early 19th century gold and hardstone portrait cameo pendant, depicting King George IV, attributed to Giuseppe Girometti, circa 1820

An early 19th century gold and hardstone portrait cameo pendant, depicting King George IV, attributed to Giuseppe Girometti, circa 1820

Oval, depicting the bust of King George IV (1780-1851), in profile, facing left, dressed as a Roman emperor wearing a laurel wreath, within a plain gold frame, unsigned, two old labels gummed to reverse, one a fragment of a printed catalogue description "..[v]ery fine onyx cameo..head of..bay, by Girometti, in gold locket, si[gned]..." dimensions of cameo 6.5 x 4.8cm FOOTNOTES Provenance Probably acquired from Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, 14 October 1820 By royal gift to William Stuart (1798-1874) "Catalogue of a Portion of the Very Choice Collection of Objects of Art & Vertu of William Stuart Esq, Deceased, late of Aldenham Abbey", Christie's, London, 11 March 1875, lot 183 Purchased by Isaac Falcke (1819-1909) This fine and large hardstone portrait cameo of King George IV is very likely to have been carved by Giuseppe Girometti (1780-1851), one of the finest and most celebrated gem engravers and medal carvers working in the first half of the 19th century. By command of the great neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova, President of the Accademia di San Luca, he was employed by the Papal Mint where he was appointed Head Engraver, along with Giuseppe Cerbara, from 1822. His cameos encompassed a wide range of subject matter, including portraits of eminent public figures of the day and Tsar Alexander I, the Grand-Duke of Tuscany, the King of Sardinia, Prince Borghese and King George IV of England were among his patrons. George IV embraced the royal tradition of gifting jewels set with the sovereign's image not only to relatives but also to attendants, diplomats and other officials. Dr Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti and Sir John Boardman have noted how "during the Regency and after his accession to the throne, George IV's interest in cameos manifested itself in an endless series of portraits of himself as Regent and King..."* Royal goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge & Rundell held the monopoly in supplying the King with jewels and engraved gems and on the 14th October 1820, the firm billed him £33 for "A very fine cameo of His Majesty, on Onyx in scrole antique Locket, with Brilliant on Loop £33..."**, possibly this very cameo. Girometti was certainly working in London after 1814. George IV greatly favoured his portrayal as a Roman emperor, an image first adopted by Thomas Wyon on a medal of the king, when Prince Regent, cast to celebrate the Treaty of Paris in 1815. Another hardstone cameo depicting George IV as a Roman emperor, also by Girometti, is in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (ref A.7-1959). It is believed this cameo was a royal gift from the King to William Stuart (1798-1874) who came from a family of loyal courtiers. Stuart was the son of the Most Reverend William Stuart (1755-1822), Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and grandson of John Stuart, third Earl of Bute (1713-1792), a favourite minister of King George III. His mother, Sophia Stuart, nee Penn, was a confidante of Queen Charlotte and his great aunt, Lady Charlotte Finch (1725-1813), was the Royal Governess and had looked after George as an infant Prince of Wales. Upon William Stuart's death, items from his collection were sold at Christie's. This cameo appeared as lot 183 on 11th March 1875 and was described in the catalogue as "A Very Fine onyx cameo head of George IV, crowned with bay, by Girometti – in gold locket, signed,". The cameo was purchased for £47.5.0 by avid art collector Isaac Falcke (1819-1909) who presumably arranged for it to be unmounted from its locket. Falcke's collection of maiolica is now in the Wallace Collection and his important collection of Wedgewood was gifted in his lifetime to the British Museum. After his death his artworks were dispersed, via a series of auctions at Christie's that took place between April and July 1910. *Kirsten Aschengreen Piacenti & John Boardman, "Ancient and Modern Gems and Jewels in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen", London, 2008, p23 **See Achengreen Piacenti/Boardman p22 for an image of the invoice

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