An unusual 18ct gold brooch of a beautifully modelled old European hunting horn, most likely Belgian. Within it is a cabochon rock crystal that has been carved and hand painted in reverse with a horse's head on a flat back. The intaglio has also been painted realistically with oils so, that when viewed through the top, the image appears three-dimensional. The technique originated in Belgium c.1860 and is attributed to an artist named Emile Marius Pradier.
Production of a reverse crystal intaglio begins with the mining and cutting of fine rock crystal from Brazil or Madagascar. A well formed cabochon is the key to a beautifully made reverse intaglio and the tedious process of hand polishing it to perfection had to be completed before the design work could begin. A watercolour of the image was painted on the underside of the cabochon and an oil and diamond dust mixture was used along with up to 250 scribing tools to carve the design into the interior of the crystal “…the deeper the carving the more pronounced trompe l’oeil effect.” Once the carving was established the painting process began with extremely fine brushes and paint working in reverse to create incredibly detailed images.
The motifs most commonly found are sporting themes like horses, dogs, foxes and birds. This relatively secret process passed through family members, so keeping it exclusive and expectations of quality were very high. They remained in fashion until poorly made glass and plastic imitations flooded the market c.1920.
This brooch is a superb example of the art and is in excellent condition.}