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19th Century Grand Tour Micromosaic From Italy

19th Century Grand Tour Micromosaic From Italy

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Minerals: Hardstone: Pre 1900: Item # 1338878

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Cartouche-shaped black marble plaque inset with oval micromosaic panels depicting Roman archaeological scenes (clockwise from upper left): the Coliseum, the Temple of Hercules, the Roman Forum and the Pantheon. Those four panels surround the Doves of Pliny, an image often used in micromosaics, which comes from a Roman floor mosaic at Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli and is believed to be a copy of a lost ancient Greek mosaic at Pergamon described by Pliny the elder.

Such items were collected by visitors to Italy on the Grand Tour as they were easily portable. Micromosaics began to be made in Italy during the Renaissance and reached the height of their popularity in the mid nineteenth century. This example was made from the smallest pieces of glass (tesserae), a technique developed in the 18th century in the Vatican Mosaic Workshop.

The edge of the plaque is incised and and would have originally been wrapped with a braided gilt-metal rope, tied at the top for hanging.

Circa 1850-1875

5 ¼” x 4”

Source: The Victoria and Albert Museum, the Gilbert Collection

(Minor chips to the edges.)