Theme and variation

Antique necklace with five micromosaics from Rome, around 1860

Rome and its surroundings, the Campagna, attracted many travellers from all over Europe in the 19th century. The grandeur of Ancient Rome, the beauty of the Arcadian, vast landscape of ruins around the Eternal City, not only Goethe experienced here some of the most beautiful hours of his life. The necklace presented here is a testimony to this love of the landscape and the city - and a very personal memento. Five medallions made of micromosaic show vedutas that quickly make the heart beat faster. In the centre, a view of the Campagna with a pine tree, a rosy light blue sky and a villa at the foot of a gentle hill. Then on the left, a view of the Pantheon, on the right the Colosseum. And on the two sides, far left and far right, again twice the largest of all amphitheaters! Obviously the mosaics are the result of a collection at different workshops or merchants, because the formats and qualities, also the kind of the representation vary slightly. Above all, the choice of motifs was evidently a very personal one. For why else would the Colosseum have been included three times? Did the original wearer associate a special memory with it? Or did she love the varied subtleties that distinguish the depictions? The type of necklace with its elegantly swinging connecting chains and the clear, simple settings of the mosaics allow us to date the piece to the years shortly after the middle of the century. A very comparable necklace can be found, for example, in Chiara Stefani: Ricordi in Micromosaico. Vedute e paesaggi per i viaggiatori del Grand Tour, Rome 2001, cat. no. 13, p. 56.

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, to protect the altarpieces in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against candle soot, moisture and dirt, which 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.