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Museum Quality Dieppe Carved Ivory Cameo Brooch
"Song of Bernadette"

This is a truly amazing find!  Large Dieppe carved ivory cameo brooch, depicting a young woman with a bird.  I was struck by its beauty at an instant; somehow, the woman's face reminded me of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, France.  Like most avid collectors, I had my mind set on acquiring this beautiful piece.  If you are not familiar with Saint Bernadette, there is a web of information on this one of the most revered figures of the Catholic Church.  The story of St. Bernadette was played on screen by Jennifer Jones in a movie called "The song of Bernadette".  Though the movie isn't accurate, it was a deeply moving interpretation of the short life of St. Bernadette.  The young woman in the carving has a serene expression, holding a chalice while a dove is drinking from it.  Of course, dove has always been a symbol of purity, and so is the woman in the carving.  Her plain costume is only accented by a string of pearls, yet this young woman possesses such grace that transcends her apart from this world.  The brooch is in pristine condition which is somewhat miraculous for a subject this old.  The back of the brooch is even more unique.  Ivory carvings are usually unsigned; signed piece are quite rare.  The ones that were signed usually signed with simplest initials of the carvers.  This piece was signed at the back with an extremely elaborate initials "M.S.", which I have never seen on other pieces.  I don't believe these were the initials of the carver since that's just not common practice.  Most likely, these were the initials of the young woman in the carving.  Maybe it was just a coincidence, these initials matched Saint Marie-Bernarde Soubirous.  Or this could very well be some young woman named after St. Bernadette.  The carving and the initials were so meticulously executed, I don't think it was supposed to be a souvenir.  Whoever possesseed the brooch had to be someone very special.  Whatever the speculation, this is an unmistakable museum quality carving.  The size is 2 1/2" by 2 1/4".