Roman grandezza

Excellent micromosaic of the "Doves of Pliny" as a brooch, Rome circa 1860

The present excellent micromosaic of the years around 1860 was created in Italy. Here, in the eternal city of Rome, the technique of finely and detailed set mosaics flourished throughout the 19th century. Views of the most beautiful ruins were created, also fragrant floral arrangements, and likewise quite different scenes, which nevertheless never deny the reference to Rome and its history. Our brooch shows a classic motif: four doves sitting at a watering trough. It is a design based on a famous ancient model, the so-called doves of Pliny. The ancient writer had already described the scene in his Natural History around the year 77 BC: "In Pergamon there is a famous mosaic with some drinking doves. Their heads shadow the water, they sit on the edge of a vessel." The doves of Pliny are one of the most famous ancient pictorial inventions, which have been preserved in to this day. An exemplary Roman copy, the floor mosaic from Hadrian's villa in Tivoli, recovered in 1737, can be seen today in the Capitoline Museums in Rome (Sala delle Colombe, inv. MC0402, see here). The version of the pictorial idea here is set in a decidedly fine and detailed manner as a fine glass mosaic and is held in place by a plain yellow gold frame.

The origin of the art of micromosaic is in Rome. Here, more precisely in the Vatican, existed since the 16th century a workshop for mosaics made of glass blocks. Initially, to protect the altarpieces placed in St. Peter's Basilica in a permanent form against candle soot, moisture and dirt, which the many pilgrims brought to the church. Later, after this task was completed, they continued to create copies of paintings as well as landscape representations in painting size. The idea of using this ultimately antique technique also for jewelry and for the decoration of craft objects arose at the end of the 18th century. As part of the Grand Tour, countless travelers 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 transportable, and were therefore particularly suitable to be taken back home in 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 established a tradition from which, until the end of the 19th century, mosaics were created with such richness of detail and artistry that had never been achieved before or since. For even today in Rome are made corresponding mosaics, albeit of much lower quality. Cf. on the technique and history of micromosaic 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.