This exhibition has no end date and is permanently open to visitors
Left: the emperor Nero | 30.3 x 28 x 5.2 millimetres | mid-1st century AD | Right: dancing maenad | 17 x 9.6 x 2.5 millimetres | 40-30 BC
Elegance and beauty
The elegance and beauty of cameos are the focus of this permanent exhibition, consisting of over one hundred pieces from the recently acquired Content Family Collection. The cameos (‘carved stones’) date from a lengthy period: from Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages up to the seventeenth century. The Content Family Collection was assembled by Derek Content, an American of Dutch origin. Almost his entire collection was recently purchased by the National Museum of Antiquities. With this acquisition, the museum’s collection of carved stones takes its place among the best collections in Europe.
- You will find the Cameos exhibition in the Muse Hall, immediately on the left after you pass through the museum’s entrance gates.
Cameos: stone ornaments
Cameos are small stone ornaments, decorated with a scene in relief in the finest detail. They are often no bigger than a fingertip. In ancient times, cameos were popular as jewellery, showpieces and talismans. Their depictions range from imperial portraits, gods and animals to symbols, proverbs and personal texts. You will see technical feats of craftmanship, unique pieces in their original settings, and diverse text cameos. Some stones are thousands of years old, whilst others were made as recently as the seventeenth century.
The exhibition features a short film by artists Scheltens & Abbenes, a duo known for their work for luxury fashion and design brands. In the film, marble statues from the museum collection wear the cameos like jewels – just as was once intended.
Forty-two masterpieces from the new cameo collection were acquired with the considerable support of the Rembrandt Association, including its Eleonora Jeuken-Tesser Fund, its 1931 Fund, its Antiquities and Archaeology Theme Fund, and the annual contribution of the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund. Other funding was obtained from the VriendenLoterij, private donations and private RMO funds: the Elisabet Huss Fund, the Van der Schans Fund, the Asklepios Fund, the Eega van Asklepios Fund and the Gildemeester Fund.
- An exhibition booklet about the new cameo collection can be purchased for €10 from the museum shop and the web shop.
Some two hundred other carved stones from the Content Family Collection have been added to the permanent exhibition on the Greeks and Romans, on the first floor of the museum.
Left: drunken Silenus with Erotes and Psyche | 16.6 x 12.5 x 9.5 millimetres | 25-0 BC | Right: Phrixus killing the ram with the golden fleece | 33 x 23.9 x 5.2 millimetres | 100 BC - 100 AD
A look inside the exhibition hall of ‘Cameos – masterpieces in stone’