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A Regency Admiral Lord Nelson Brooch
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A Regency Admiral Lord Nelson Brooch

Circa 1810

Measurements: Height: 5cm (2in)



A bloodstone cameo profile portrait of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson (1758-1805), executed in white vitreous paste contained within a oval gold brooch setting and with a bloodstone suspension in the form of crossed sheaths of oak and palm, fitted with a gold pin.

During the reign of George III the fashion for collecting of antique engraved cameos and intaglios reached a high point and demand soon exceeded supply. To fill the gap the Scottish modeller James Tassie (1735-1799) created copies of examples from antiquity as well as cameos of contemporaries including Napoleon, Nelson, and Lady Hamilton. The casting of such utilized a new form of fired vitreous paste to form the portrait that included silica, lead oxide and potassium oxide.

After Nelson’s death his widow is known to have ordered three such brooches from the firm of William Tassie (1777-1860). A further bloodstone and vitreous paste example is in the National Maritime Museuem (0287) at Greenwich, which is said to have been worn by Nelson’s daughter by Emma Hamilton, Horatia Nelson Ward (1801-1881). The wearing of such cameo portraits was not exclusively confined to ladies as Arthur William Devis’ portrait of Admiral Peter Rainier (1762-1822) for his contemporary Admiral Benjamin Page, demonstrates.