Roman memory

Bracelet of hair with clasp of gold & micromosaic, around 1820

Travelling at the beginning of the 19th century was an arduous and often even dangerous business. The roads were poor and the stagecoaches hardly had any suspension. A journey across the Alps to sunny Italy was therefore a strain (not to mention the expense) that few took upon themselves. No wonder that such a journey was an event to be looked back on with pride and the memory of which was to be kept alive by souvenirs. Among the classic souvenirs from the city of Rome were micromosaics, by which those at home could later recognize the traveler to Italy. A fine micromosaic in the form of a flower basket also adorns the gold clasp of this bracelet from the Biedermeier era, which was created around 1820. Three delicate strands of chestnut brown hair form the actual band and surprise us with their artistic weave. We do not know to whom this hair once belonged and to whom it was once presented as a gift of love. Was it a woman in his northern Alpine homeland who wanted to complete a souvenir from the Eternal City with them? Or was it even a Roman woman who gave her hair to a traveller who lost his heart in the city on the Tiber? The answer will probably remain forever hidden in the darkness of history....

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.

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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.