Cameo Appearance

In 1860 George Eliot and George Henry Lewes visited Rome, Italy, where Eliot obtained an engraved shell cameo which she and Lewes had jeweller Cesare Tombini set in a gold mount of Etruscan design.  In his diary for April 18th, 1860 Lewes describes purchasing the brooch: “Bought a Bacchante for a brooch, and two little heads (an Ariadne and Thebe) as shirt studs.  [ . . . ] The Bacchante we took to a goldsmith and there chose an Etruscan mounting.”

The brooch was passed down to Lewes’s son, Charles Lee Lewes, who gave the brooch to Georgiana Burne-Jones.

The brooch, which is now at the Beinecke Library, is accompanied by a sheet of mourning notepaper inscribed “Brought me by Mr. C. Lewes/in memory of my beloved/friend ‘George Eliot’ on Sun:/Sep: 17th 1882. He remem-/bers her wearing it years ago/G. Burne-Jones.”  More details are available in the catalogue record:


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