Necklace with pendant mask of the river god Achelous
Jewellery in the archaeological style was popular in intellectual circles from around 1860 until the 1880s. As in this necklace, it used forms and decorations from the ancient world.
This pendant depicts the Greek river god Achelous and imitates the ancient Etruscan technique of granulation. Carlo Guiliano probably based the pendant on a mask of Achelous displayed in Paris in 1862.
London, about 1865
Made by Carlo Giuliano (about 1831-95)
Granulated gold beads and mask
As this cartoon suggests, the size and weight of faithfully reproduced archaeological jewellery could make it difficult to wear. In the caption underneath, the young lady complained that her gladiators necklace is positively distressing to the collar bones and her hair is visibly diminished since she took to wearing Greek daggers and Roman pins.
Cartoon from Punch, 15 July 1859
Reproduced with permission of Punch Ltd
The archaeological style was inspired by Etruscan earrings such as these.
In the 19th century jewellers were determined to emulate the intricate techniques for which the Etruscans were famous, particularly granulation and filigree. The Etruscans managed to attach decorative gold granules and wires to a base without solder, but it was not until the 1920s that goldsmiths in Western Europe succeeded in doing this.
Tuscany (Etruria), about 550-450 BC
Sheet gold with filigree and granulation
Case 2. V&A: 8731A-1863
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
This Etruscan pendant depicts Achelous, the river god in Greek mythology, who could appear as a bull, a serpent or a bull-headed man. It was one of the most famous jewels in the Campana collection, displayed in Paris from 1862. In his interpretation, Giuliano flattened the head and lengthened the beard of the river god.