Wonderful micromosaic necklace with animal depictions, Italy circa 1842
Travellers from Rome liked to bring home micromosaics depicting the famous sights of the Eternal City. However, this wonderful necklace proves that other motifs were also in demand. Held together by golden chains, we see seven fine micromosaics made of small glass tesserae in black glass. The depictions show a colourful array of cute farm animals and lap animals, which were probably intended to remind us of a country trip to the Roman Campagna. A white duck, a sheep and a swan can be found as well as a red tabby cat. Three times the picture of a small dog can be found. The spaniel is sitting on a patch of grass and appears distinguished. They are King Charles Spaniels, a breed which, since the reign of King Charles I, was popular at first in the English royal court and in British aristocratic circles, but soon became widespread in all other European countries. It was probably a German traveller who brought the necklace across the Alps in 1842. On the back of the elaborate clasp is a dedication engraving with the initials "A.v.M." and the date "d[en]. 12t[en] May 1842." The front of the clasp also continues the rural motif of the jewel. Finely chased and idyllically arranged, we see here a spade and a rake together with a basket full of flowers and lush fruit under a tree. The necklace, which came to us from an estate in Baden, is a wonderful, decorative piece of jewelry in the rare medium of micromosaic with touching depictions of animals. See the corresponding mosaics with representations of Spaniels in Roberto Grieco/Arianna Gambino: Roman Mosaic. L'arte del micromosaico fra '700 e '800, Milan 2001, on page 62f., with examples from various Roman collections.
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. 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.