The great Isadora Duncan (1877 - 1927), renown stage actress who graced many a theatre with her dancing, and who is hailed as the mother of modern dancing, posed several times for the French artist and designer Rene Lalique. Duncan commissioned him to create stage jewellery for some of her most important performances. She received regular gifts of impressive jewellery from her many (male) admirers but it is said that one of her favourite accessories was a belt of hardstone cameos which was a gift made to her by gold miners in her native California.
The cameo is basically a carved relief image that is created and juxtaposed against a contrasting color background found in the material's lower layers. Cameos experienced a revival during the 1990s, which revival is somewhat still lingering as the penchant for shabby chic fashion remains alive and kicking. Beware when buying cameos however. If you're after the real thing, you need expert advice to be sure you are not being sold an imitation. These works of minute sculpture are made of so many different materials, ranging from jet or onyx to sardonyx, to coral, to shell, ceramics or multi-layered glass also referred to as cameo glass.
The first drawing featured at the top of this post is a watercolor and ink over graphite on off-white, medium-weight, moderately textured laid paper, showing Isadora Duncan. It was made by Abraham Wolkowitz and is presently at the Brooklyn Museum, NY.
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