I’ve always admired the crisp and clean aesthetic of an arrangement of framed intaglios.
Last week I happened upon a set for sale and in true designer form, I decided to create my own customized series; so the search began. As I Google’d my way around I noticed a discrepancy; some of the narrative used intaglio, cabochon or both. This was confusing. At first glance they looked very similar, but at closer inspection, some images were engraved and others were raised like that of a cameo; and then there were those that appeared under a clear convex. What was the distinct integrity of each?
This bracelet is a modern reproduction that includes both intaglios and cameos. Look at the difference between the cameo and intaglio; the cameo nearly always features a raised (positive) relief image; contrast with intaglio, which has a negative image; you can clearly see the distinction here.
What I was discovering were reliefs finished in the style of a cabochon.
Intaglios have a rich history; originals are rare and can be quite expensive.
Intaglios were regarded as the souvenirs of the wealthy. During the 17th to the 19th centuries it was common for privileged young men from the upper gentry in England and northern Europe to put the finishing touch on their education by traveling to Italy and France; some spent up to two years away from home touring. The tour was a means of discovery, refinement and culture; exposing them to a world outside of their own. Initially, these journeys were the benefit of young men, but in the 19th century women also began touring.
The wealthiest tourists would take home major works of art, such as sculpture, paintings and antiquities; those with more modest means would find lesser works of art, including the beautiful and highly portable intaglios. The casts depicted great works that could be seen by a typical grand tourist and thus were arranged as a chronicle of ones tour.
There are many types of reproductions on the market today, so it’s important to understand the distinguishing characteristics if you’re looking at these gems as an investment.
From a purely aesthetic point of view; creating your own gallery can be quite affordable and interesting. Start collecting your favorite images and create your own story. I found beautiful seaside casts, Buddhas, scenes of romance, etc.
I love this romantic scene; it’s the perfect scenario for a boudoir vignette.
Look at the different arrangement of intaglios within the frame; this too creates visual interest. Use different color backgrounds, offset matting and upgrade framing; these elements will create a dramatic focal point that will pull attention to the imagery.
This is a perfect example of high/low design; there are the expensive collectibles and the moderately priced reproductions. How you package and display the final product determines it’s visual value; quality, composition, matting, framing and arrangement reign supreme. When you use quality products, it elevates even the simplest and most inexpensive piece of art.
I’m such a sucker for romance. The romantic Parisian scene in the earlier scenario catapulted me into starting my own collection of intaglios and cabochons. I’m going to take my time and find the perfect pieces to tell a wonderful story of love and romance. There’s nothing like a great love story!
What’s your story? Tell it frame by beautiful frame.