- Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 12:38
- Published on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 12:38
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The recent papal election has prompted a local resident to ask about his two papal cameos. He purchased them separately at antiques shops, and had one inserted in the silver-finished frame. The one on the left is Pope Pius IX, the longest reigning Bishop of Rome who ruled from 1846 to 1878. The one on the right is Pope Leo XIII, who succeeded Pius IX from 1878 to 1903. The latter was the second longest papal reign until exceeded by Pope John Paul II.
The cameos appear to be of a composite material, which then was applied to the black background that could be either a form of onyx, or some other semi-precious stone, or glass. The original frame on Leo XIII is quite nice in itself, and the modern one on Pius IX is a good match for the cameo.
These two are fine examples of nineteenth-century religious art. They might have been tourist items from the period. Then as now pilgrims flocked to Rome, thereby creating a high demand for such items.
Despite the modern frame the cameo of Pius IX is the better one. The sculpting is more in the classical mode, and the modeling is excellent. The one of Leo XIII is not as refined, but does have the attribute of having a period frame. Pius IX is worth $75, and Leo XIII is worth $60.
Religious art does not have the popular demand that secular art does, but to those who collect it, the market is strong, especially for items such as these where the figures are readily identifiable. I suspect that this market will be particularly strong this year, given all of the press coverage of the papal abdication and election.