L'Arco di Tito
Antique brooch with micromosaic of the Arch of Titus, Rome circa 1820
The ruins of the city of Rome leave hardly anyone untouched. Even after millennia, the sublime buildings still convey the power and grandeur of the Roman Empire, but also remind us of the inevitable transience of all earthly splendor. Travellers who visited the Eternal City in the 19th century were particularly fond of bringing home views of the ancient legacies in the medium of the finest micromosaics as souvenirs. The present brooch from the early 19th century is one such piece. Set in a field of shimmering aventurine glass, the oval brooch depicts one of the most famous testaments to Roman power. It is the triumphal arch of the Emperor Titus on the Forum Romanum. The arch spans the Via Sacra, the sacred road, and was built to mark the conquest of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The famous reliefs in the passageway of the arch show the treasures captured by the legionaries during the destruction of the Jewish Temple, such as the seven-branched candelabrum of pure gold. In the Middle Ages, the ancient arch was built over and formed the entrance to the fortress of the Frangipani family. It was only in 1822 that the architect and archaeologist Giuseppe Valadier uncovered the monument and rebuilt it in the same condition that we can admire today during a trip to Rome. In the condition before the uncovering of 1822, however, we see the arch on the micromosaic here. The view from the west even shows a fortress wall to the right of the lushly overgrown monument, which has disappeared in the meantime. We therefore date the depiction to the years around 1820. A comparable view of the arch is shown in the veduta by Piranesi from 1748, reproduced below. A simple gold setting holds the fine mosaic and makes it wearable as a brooch.
Around 1775, Giacomo Raffaelli and Cesare Aguatti in Rome invented a new technique of working glass into tiny mosaics, which became known as "mosaici filati" (spun mosaics). Using this technique, it was now possible to decorate jewellery and small everyday objects snuffboxes, boxes, paperweights with mosaics that had previously adorned the walls and floors of Italian churches. The most famous mosaic factories of the 18th and 19th centuries were located in Rome, especially in the Vatican, and their most beautiful and sought-after works show, besides especially views of the city of Rome and its famous buildings, which were bought by travellers who visited the "Eternal City" and wanted to take a souvenir.
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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.