An outstanding collection of cameo jewellery is to be offered on 27 April at Sloane Street Auctions. Coming from a single-owner private collection of ancient artefacts and antiquities, these outstanding pieces include a 500-year-old cameo depicting a hawking party, housed within in a diamond-set brooch setting. Possibly German, the cameo dates from circa 1450, and illustrates the popular medieval sport of hawking, the aristocratic pastime whereby trained falcons and hawks were used to hunt game. It has an estimate of £20,000-£30,000, and will be offered alongside four cameos from the same collection. These include a 3rd Century BC agate intaglio of a Sphinx in the original Roman pure gold ring setting, and a 3rd Century AD agate cameo of Minerva created in Ancient Rome. Each carries an estimate of £3,000-£5,000.
This rare and detailed cameo illustrates a hawking party, with two gentlemen pictured in profile, one on horseback with falcon stood on fist, the other leading a hound. Against the foliate backdrop of a rural scene, the gentlemen prepare to release the trained bird to hunt small wild game, which would typically include birds, squirrels and rabbits. Falconry was a popular pastime in Medieval Europe, and became a regulated sport amongst the nobility and clergy. Falcons were even taken into the religious services of certain religious orders. Falcons were so highly valued that they worth more than their equivalent weight in gold. The present cameo is a rare survival, and its beauty is further accentuated by the surrounding diamond brooch setting, which dates from the 19th century. It has an estimate of £20,000-£30,000.