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Opal, The Dream Cloud
Object Type: Mineral
Chemistry Formula: SiO2.nH2O
Dimensions: Centimetres: 8 x 6 x 4; 1167.5 carats
Museum ID Number: M43592
Image Number: ROM2004_929_3

Opal is an amorphous form of silica. An amorphous substance, it lacks the regular atomic structures found in crystalline forms of silica, the most common being quartz. Precious opal shows a play of colour from the interaction of light with the countless minute spheres of silica of which the opal is made.

This unique piece, known as “The Dream Cloud”, has an interesting history. It is believed to have been carved about 1915, and obtained by Mr. John Junius Morgan of Nyetimber, Chiltington, Sussex, England, from a Russian emigré, apparently as a birthday gift in 1936 (J.J. Morgan was the nephew of J.P. Morgan, Jr., heir to the Morgan fortune). The piece was then given to Miss Margaret Phoir of Fredericton, New Brunswick, a companion of J.P. Morgan's sister; in turn it was given to Miss Phoir's niece, Mrs. John B. MacNeill of Weymouth, Nova Scotia, who in final turn, donated it to the ROM. Mrs. MacNeill is the wife of Dr. John MacNeill, a former director of the Museum.

The winged female bust is a personification of The Dream, close to Beaux Arts traditional style with hints of late Art Nouveau. The carver took superb advantage of the brown ironstone matrix in which the opal occurs, by incorporating it into the carving.

Location: Queensland opal fields; Queensland; Australia

Object History: Gift of Mrs. John B. MacNeill in 1987

Gallery: Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth's Treasures

ROM Links: Teck Suite of Galleries: Earth's Treasures

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