In the Campagna
Large antique micromosaic of a peasant woman from Tivoli as a pendant, Rome circa 1840
In the 19th century, each trip to Italy, the "Grand Tour", included excursions into the countryside around Rome. Even Goethe, who visited Tivoli, Frascati and the many other picturesque places in the region at the turn of the year 1786/87, raved about the beauty of the Campagna Romana. The landscape between the Apennines and the Mediterranean was rich in artistic monuments, natural beauty and those small towns whose inhabitants led a simple but seemingly happy life that was the envy of travellers from the north. The large pendant here was born out of this fascination for the Roman countryside. In a frame of gilt silver, the mosaic shows a peasant beauty, a Donna di Campagna, in the typical costume of the Roman countryside. She sits in the midst of the enchanting landscape, the leaves shining green, the sky stretching pink and blue above her. She seems to be lost in thought, pensively looking out of the frame to the side. Have we surprised her during a rest? We know scenes like this from numerous sketches, prints and paintings made for the international travellers. A famous artist of the time, Bartomoleo Pinelli (1781-1835), specialized in depicting the supposedly common people. He created an entire print series of "Costumi pittoreschi", genre scenes of country folk in their local costume, which were widely distributed. They also help us to identify the costume of the sitter: The typical folded headdress and the cloth draped around the shoulders correspond to the costume of Tivoli, cf. the last illustration. The mosaic was created in the years around 1840, according to the design of the framing in gilded silver. Originally the work was probably a brooch. In more recent times the loop of gold was added and since then the nostalgic piece can be worn as a pendant. A modern necklace of small onyx beads is included with the piece as a free addition.
The origin of the art of micromosaic lies in Rome. Here, more precisely in the Vatican, a workshop for mosaics made of glass blocks existed since the 16th century. Initially, this was done to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against the candle soot, moisture and dirt that the many pilgrims brought into the church. Later, after this task was completed, further copies of paintings were made as well as landscape representations in painting size. The idea of using this ultimately antique technique also for jewellery and for the decoration of craft objects arose at the end of the 18th century. Countless travellers from northern Europe arrived in the city as part of the Grand Tour, creating a huge demand for souvenirs. Not least to serve this market, a whole new art form emerged: micromosaics are small and portable, and were therefore particularly suited to being taken back home to the north. Since they also usually show the beauties of Rome or motifs from antiquity, their success as travel souvenirs is hardly surprising. The "invention" of the micromosaic is associated above all with Giacomo Raffaelli and Cesare Aguatti, who perfected this technique around 1775. They founded a tradition from which, until the end of the 19th century, mosaics were created with such a richness of detail and artistry that had never been achieved before or since. For even today, corresponding mosaics are produced in Rome, albeit in significantly lower quality. Cf. on the technique and history of micromosaics the relevant literature: Maria Grazia Branchetti: Mosaici minuti romani, Rome 2004, with many works by Giacomo Raffaelli, as well as Roberto Grieco/Arianna Gambino: Roman Mosaic. L'arte del micromosaico fra '700 e '800, Milan 2001.
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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.
If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.