Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Cameo of a Husband and Wife 1269



Unknown Artist     


Cameo of a Husband and Wife

Creation Date

0 - 100 CE


1st century BC


1 11/16 in. x 1 5/16 in. (4.29 cm. x 3.33 cm.)

Object Type


Creation Place

Ancient Mediterranean, Roman

Medium and Support

two-layered chalcedony

Credit Line

Gift of Edward Perry Warren, Esq., Honorary Degree, 1926


Public Domain

Accession Number

Created for private consumption within the family, such cameos were treasured heirlooms among the Roman elite. Cameos became particularly popular beginning in the 1st c. CE, and were carved from from colorful, semi-precious stone such as agate, sardonyx, and onyx, as well as shell and glass. The Bowdoin cameo, a fine particularly example of Roman luxury arts, is notable for presenting an intimate portrait of a Roman couple, a rarity among cameos. The man is foregrounded slightly; his left shoulder overlaps his wife and his head is noticeably larger. The duo wear traditional clothing that reinforces their status as elite citizens of Rome. The man is clad in a simple toga draped over his left shoulder, while the woman wears a palla, the mantle of a married woman, draped over her head. The dress, hairstyles, and facial features of both man and woman draw on the imperial portraiture of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and place this cameo in the 1st c. CE.

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