Costumi pittoreschi

Wonderful micromosaic necklace after Pinelli set in gold, Rome circa 1820

At the beginning of the 19th century, travel to distant countries was still a privilege that only a few could afford. The classic travel destination was primarily Italy, which was traveled in the course of the so-called Grand Tour from the passes of the Alps to the deep south. The highlight of this educational tour was always a visit to the city of Rome. Its numerous sights, set in fine micromosaics, were popular souvenirs to take home. The stay in the city also included obligatory excursions into the surrounding countryside of the Eternal City, the famous Campagna Romana, of whose beauty Goethe already raved. The landscape between the Apennines and the Mediterranean was rich in artistic monuments and natural beauty - but also known for its small, picturesque villages, whose inhabitants led a simple but seemingly happy life, the envy of travelers from the north. We know scenes like this from numerous sketches, prints and paintings created for the international travellers. A famous artist of the time, Bartomoleo Pinelli (1781-1835), for example, specialized in depicting the supposedly common people. He created a whole series of prints with "Costumi pittoreschi", i.e. genre scenes of the rural population in their local costumes, but also small sculptures and drawings with this subject. His works, such as the print of a rural celebration from 1809 shown here, were extremely popular souvenirs. The present necklace is also adorned with a cheerful circle of supposedly happy country people. In fact, the central shawm player and his companion with the bagpipe seem to go directly back to the model of Pinelli's print. Furthermore, we see peasant women with flower baskets and two shepherds. The fine micromosaics are set in oval surfaces of deep black glass. Engraved settings of high-carat gold hold the depictions. Held together by fine pea chains of gold, the result is a distinctly beautiful necklace.

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. 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.

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