Roma Eterna

Brooch with micromosaic of the Capitol, Rome 1850s

If ancient Rome was once considered the center of the world, the Capitol was undoubtedly the center of the Eternal City. The smallest of Rome's seven hills had a very special significance in history. On its summit stood the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, the supreme god of Rome. Emperors sacrificed there and victorious armies offered the weapons of their defeated enemies here on their triumphal procession. The present brooch shows this historical place as a fine micromosaic. In a view from the west we see the Piazza Campidoglio in its present form, conceived by none other than Michelangelo. With the redesign of the square, which was clearly neglected during the Middle Ages, the most famous artist of the Renaissance created his urban masterpiece. Michelangelo redesigned the Roman town hall at the center of the site in the years beginning in 1536 and created identical facades for the two medieval palazzi on its sides. The wide flight of steps, the Cordonata, lifted visitors up like a stone conveyor belt, bringing them in wonder to the center of municipal authority. In the piazza, the famous equestrian statue of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius found a new location and formed the glittering center of the composition. In all subsequent centuries, the Capitol was a must-see for all visitors to Rome. Travellers who visited Rome on the Grand Tour in the 19th century liked to bring home micromosaics with views of the city as souvenirs: this brooch, too, with its engraved gold frame and richly detailed design, probably found its way across the Alps as a souvenir in a traveller's luggage to tell those at home of the beauty of the Eternal City.

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. As part of the Grand Tour, countless travellers from northern Europe arrived in the city, creating a great 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.

We want you to be 100% satisfied! For that reason, we examine, describe and photograph all of our jewellery with the utmost care.

You can rely on our years of experience in the trade and our expertise as a professional art historians for reviews of the antique jewellery. As a member of various trader organisations and the British Society of Jewellery Historians, we remain committed to the highest possible degree of accuracy. In our descriptions, we always also indicate any signs of age and defects and never hide them in our photos – this saves you from any unpleasant surprises when your package arrives.

Should you for some reason not be satisfied, please don’t hesitate to contact us so that we can begin to find a solution together. In any case, you can return any article within 30 days and we will refund the full purchase price.


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.