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The Blacas Cameo

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • The Blacas Cameo
  • Description

    Three-layered sardonyx cameo engraved with a portrait of Augustus wearing the aegis of Minerva and a sword-belt.

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 14-20
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Length: 9.3 centimetres
    • Height: 12.8 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    He originally wore a laurel wreath; this was replaced, probably in the medieval period, with the current setting of jewels. Provenance is unknown; the first recorded mention appears to be A.F. Gori, Gemmae antiquae ex thesauro Mediceo et privatorum Dactyliothecis Florentiae, I (Florence, 1731), 47-48, who describes it as being in the Strozzi cabinet in Florence. Cf. unpublished thesis by Lara Schwarz, Van de rug af gezien. De Duc de Blacas camee in het British Museum (Amsterdam 1993)


  • Bibliography

    • Gem 3577 bibliographic details
    • Bate & Thornton 2012 p. 226, fig. 16; p. 293 bibliographic details
  • Exhibition history


    1990 24 Mar-10 Jun, Australia, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat. no.88
    1990 28 Jun-23 Sep, Australia, Melbourne, Museum of Victoria, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat. no.88
    2012 19 Jul-25 Nov, London, BM Shakespeare: Staging the World
    2013 October - February 2014 Augusto exhibition at Scuderie del Quirinale, Rome
    2014 March - July Reunion des musees nationaux - Grand Palais, Paris

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    15 July 2013

    Treatment proposal

    Surface clean


    Surface layer of museum dirt

    Treatment details

    Cleaned with deionised water and a few drops of Synperonic A7 (non ionic detergent), using cotton wool swabs. After cleaning, surface rinsed with deionised water on cotton wool swabs. Surface wiped with dry lab tissue to remove any remaining water. Only damp swabs were used throughout

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Greek & Roman Antiquities

  • Registration number


COMPASS Image Caption: Cameo portrait of the Emperor Augustus, 
about AD14-20;Cameo portrait of Augustus


COMPASS Image Caption: Cameo portrait of the Emperor Augustus, about AD14-20;Cameo portrait of Augustus

Image description



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Object reference number: GAA1009

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