Intricately carved in high relief of lava ( limestone and other rocks from the Mount Vesuvius region) our brooch offers a rare depiction of a Titan subject, the ruler of the Titans, Cronus (Greek) or Saturn (Roman). Cronus, the father of Zeus, was the harvest god and carried a sickle, a tool used in harvesting grain. Cronos is also associated with time (Chronos) and is sometimes depicted with an hourglass, a reminder of the brevity of our time on earth. More typically are cameos depicting the Olympic gods; Titan subjects are much rarer, and hence more valuable. The cameo depicts the aging Cronus with the drape of his collar and his flowing beard and the blades on the sickle in unusually high relief, creating a pure work of art.
Cameos featuring Greek mythological subjects were popular in the 19th century and often made for travelers on the Grand Tour, who liked to take home mementos of Mount Vesuvius. Their portability made them the perfect souvenir.