Ah, cameo art. Hand-painted on ivory, cameo portraits from the Victorian era and earlier can run in the hundreds and even thousands of dollars...
Um, these are not those.
But these little prints ARE a nice, period-influenced approximation of the look and feel. And ranging from around $.99 each at thrift stores, to under ten bucks at many antique malls, these little cameo portraits can be really effective in a Victorian, cottage or Paris Apartment decorating styles.
One company that produced this style of art was called Turner (see upper central cameo). And the popular label you’ll see on the backs of many of these prints reads “A Cameo Creation.” Some quick internet research indicates they were produced from the 1940s through the 1960s, and I suspect that the fact this spanned a twenty-some year period is reflected in the way some of them are framed in gilded wood surrounded by a velvet (usually burgundy in color) while others, probably later pieces, are framed in elaborate gold plastic.
The images themselves were well-known portraits of late 18th century and 19th century nobility, and many are marked as such on the back. For instance, meet Lady Grosvenor. Others include Mmc. Lambert de Morigney by Nicholas Largellier, Miss Conyngham, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, and Comtesse Lousia Cercle by FX Winterhalter.
I understand from chatting with a vendor once that she remembered these items originally being sold in the home decor sections of major department stores-- so, say, in our Pittsburgh area, all the Kauffmann’s department stores probably would have carried them.
And collecting them today can be surprisingly easy. I’ve seen them come into the thrift stores a couple of times a year (normally en masse, because they do look good in groups on a wall). And I’ve found them in flea markets and antique stores. The antique stores occasionally get carried away with the price, so it’s smart to know the maximum that you want to pay and stick to that.
Last thing I wanted to show you: this one is marked with an old price tag from Strauss-Hirshbergs department store. $2.99. Considering I paid about $0.99 for this little lady many, many years later, I’d say I got a pretty good deal!
I hope you all will come face-to-face with great deals yourselves! See you next week.