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Micro Mosaic & Pietra Dura Image Library

Welcome to the Micro Mosaic and Pietra Dura Image Library, where you can find pictures of many of the fabulous items in the Gilbert Collection, and other famous collections. Jeanette has provided wonderful narration to illuminate the historical context in which these pietra dura artisits labored as well as the artist's contributions to the craft.  


Apollo Table micromosaic jpg by Boschetti

APOLLO ANCIENT ZODIAC

Table With Triumph of Cupid
Rome, Micromosaic and gilt bronze, circa 1823
by Benedetto Boschetti
(Diameter 31in, 78.7cm.)

The scene depicts Cupid surrounded by animals sacred to divinities associated with the 8 planets: ox for Saturn, hound for Diana the Moon, wolf for Mars the warrior, eagle for Jupiter and rulers, the ram for Mercury  and artisans, the griffin of Apollo and artists, the mare of Ceres (the earth) and farmers, and the dove of Venus and poets. 

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No.52


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APOLLO TABLE DETAIL

This theme is taken from Petrarch's poem "Triumph of Love". (1304-1374). However, this frontal composition of a chariot with four horses is found in a 3rd century B.C. Roman mosaic from Constantine (Louvre, Paris).

 


floral_micromosaic_micro-mosaic.jpg Berberi

FLORAL MOSAIC

Rome, Micromosaic, c.1860
(20x15in., 51x38cm)

This is one of a pair of floral still lives probably copied from originals by the famous mosaicist Barberi (1787-1867), and were probably taken from paintings by 17th century Dutch Masters.  

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No.91


cock_micromosaic_micro-mosaic.jpg Wekler

C
OCKEREL

 St. Petersburg, Micromosaic, 1834
 Georgi Wekler (1800-1861)
(3 3/8x2 3/4in., 8.6x6.9cm)

Wekler this miniature for the Russian Imperial family after a painting by d'Hondecoeter (1636-1695). Wekler was discovered in Russia where he was painting eggs in a glass shop.  He was trained in mosaic art by Italian mosaicist Moglia, eventually becoming mosaic master of the Russian Court. 

Illustrated in Gabriel, 20000, No.40


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Tigress - Detail

TIGRESS

After George Stubbs painting of 1768
Venice, Micromosaic, late nineteenth century
(20 x 26 in; 50.8 x 66 cm)

Stubbs was commissioned in 1762 to paint this tigress at the menagerie of Blenheim Palace. It was a gift to George Spencer, fourth Duke of Marlborough, from Lord Clive, Governor of Bengal. The naturalism of the tigress’ fur displays the potential of mosaic for naturalistic representation.  

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No.56


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SNUFFBOX WITH HEAD OF BACCHUS
Micromosaic: Rome, 1804,  Clementi Ciuli
Box: gold & enamel, Paris, 1809/19 by A. M. Vachette
(Diameter: 3 1/4 in; 8.3 cm)
                                
When Pope Pius VII
was summoned from the Vatican to preside over the consecration and crowning of Napoleon at Notre Dame in 1804, this snuffbox was among the diplomatic gifts he took with him to Paris. Later in its history, the box was given to a banker in gratitiude for special services rendered. Bacchus (also known as Dionysus), is the god of wine, but also represents a lover of peace and civilization. He is represented as a beautiful, beardless youth, his long hair adorned with vines and wearing a lion skin over his shoulder. 
The minute tesserae in this mosaic are among the most refined known to exist. The exquisite monochrome composition is in a technique called en grisaille, which means in shades of  gray, often used in imitation of sculpture.

 Ilustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No. 44


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CAVALIER
Micromosaic, Vatican c. 1880
Signed Luigi Tarantoni R.F.S.P.V.
(18 5/8 x 10 5/8 in; 47.4 x 27 cm)

Most of Tarantoni’s mosaics depict cavaliers, a popular subject which emerged in late nineteenth century art and literature in the in response to the public’s hunger for romanticism. His colorful and romantic historical figures were based on characters inspired by writers such as Alexandre Dumas (1802-70) author of The Three Musketeers, Man in the Iron Mask and The Count of Monte Cristo.  
We must remember that micromosics were copied from paintings. A major originator in this type of historic subject matter was the French painter, etcher and lithographer Ernest Meissonier (1815-91). His thrilling compositions served as models for artists in many media throughout Europe. 
The letters R.F.S.P.V. after Tarantoni’s signature on the bottom right of the picture stands for Reverend Fabbrica de S. Pietro in Vaticano, indicating the mosaic was made at the workshop of St. Peter’s basilica at the Vatican, where Tarantoni worked in the late nineteenth century. The coat of arms in the uppr left has not been identified. Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No. 65 

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OTHELLO

After the Painting by Carl L.. F. Becker (1820-1900)
Micromosaic, Rome or Venice, after 1890
(A. Gallus, 28 x 332 5/8 in; 71 x 83 cm)
It is rare to find a mosaic with subject matter from Shakespeare. This mosaic is further unusual in being unpolished, that is, the tesseerae are rough, possibly to create a play of light upon the surface of the picture. This was characteristic of some Venetian mosaics, but examples are also found from the Vatican studio. 

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No. 64.

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39 
CASKET WITH GATCHINA PRIORY
Micromosaic, St. Petersburg, c 1825
Giorgi Ferdinand Wekler
Casket: 9 1/4 x 6 x 5 in; 23.5 x 15.2 x 12.7 cm)
This casket belonged to Grand Duchess Olga von Wurttemberg, daughter of Nicholas I, Tsar of Russia. Wekler was commissioned to depict several of the Imperial estates in micromosaic. Seen atop this casket is the Gothic-style priory on the grounds of Gatchina Palace, built in 1766 and given by Catherine the Great to her lover Prince Orlov, who had helped her dethrone Peter III.
See another view of the top of the casket on this site
Illustrated in Gabriel 2000, No. 39

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MICRO MOSAIC PLAQUE WITH TWO DOGS

Micromosaic, St. Petersburg, 1853
Giorgi Ferdinand Wekler
(4 1/4 x 5 1/4 in. 10.8 x 14.6 cm)
Miniature Italian Greyhounds were popular with European monarchs and nobility and would have been household pets of the Imperial Russian household. This signed plaque by Wekler, Court artist to the Tsar’s household. This picture of dogs illustrates his exceptional mastery of mosaics. His teacher was Domenico Moglia, who discovered Wekler in Moscow where he was a painter of glass eggs

Illustrated in Gabriel 2000, No.

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FOUR SEASONS MICRO MOSAIC TABLE
Micromosaic, Rome, 1839
Signed Camillo Poggioli

(Diameter of Tabletop: 31 in ; 78.7 cm)

A mosaic tabletop whose theme is the Four Seasons, with flowers and fruit representing Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Two birds are shown: the larger is a European Bee eater, a species frequently found depicted in arts, particularly in pietra dura or Florentine hardstone panels; the smaller bird, a European Goldfinch, has been utilized for centuries in paintings, particularly during the Renaissance when it was a symbolof the air or of touch. The realistic texture of the birds’ feathers demonstrates the potential of micromosaics for naturalistic representation in art. The composition is signed in tesserae, Poggiolo f. 1839 in Roma [Poggioli made it in 1839 in Rome].

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No. 51
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BIRD MICROMOSAIC: DETAIL OF TABLETOP

Micromosaic, Rome, 1839
Signed Camillo Poggioli

(Diameter of Tabletop: 31 in ; 78.7 cm)

The mosaic image here is a detail taken from the center of a mosaic tabletop whose theme is the Four Seasons, with flowers and fruit representing Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Two birds are shown: the larger is a European Bee eater, a species frequently found depicted in arts, particularly in pietra dura or Florentine hardstone panels; the smaller bird, a European Goldfinch, has been utilized for centuries in paintings, particularly during the Renaissance when it was a symbolof the air or of touch. The realistic texture of the birds’ feathers demonstrates the potential of micromosaics for naturalistic representation in art. The composition is signed in tesserae, Poggiolo f. 1839 in Roma [Poggioli made it in 1839 in Rome].

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No. 51

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TABLE WITH GODDESS HEBE

Paris, Micromosaic & Gilded Rosewood, 1805
Francois (Francesco) Belloni (1772-1863)

The Empress, Josephine of France, had this table at her chateau, Malmaison. Represented is Hebe, Goddess of Youth and cup-bearer to the gods. This image is based on the statue by Antonio Canova now at the Hermitage Museum. Belloni came from Rome to open a royal mosaic workshop in France under Napoleon, producing mosaic decorations for the royal residences.  

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ALBANIAN FOLK WOMAN

Rome, Micromosaic, c. 1850
(2.5x4in., 6.4x10cm)

The extraordinary color and minute detail
of this Albanian Folk Woman in regional costume make it exceptional for this genre (19th century depictions of peasants in regional costumes). This  make it one of the finest examples seen today.

Private Collection, Florida

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SPANIEL IN LANDSCAPE

Rome, Micromosaic, c. 1825
(width 3.25in., 8.5cm)

Dogs were popular subjects in micromosaics and other early 19th century art. They symbolized fidelity or faithfulness and love. The high quality of this mosaic, which is mounted in an English gold snuffbox of 1827 by Strachan, indicates it may be by Antonio Aguatti (d. 1846).

Private Collection,

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A RURAL SCENE

Rome, Micromosaic, c. 1850
(7.5x10.5in., 19x26.7cm)

This charming scene is an alegory of love, which depicts two young women in the doorway of a farmhouse. The courting doves, ripe produce, blooming roses, and the large vessel (symbolic of virginity) are characteristic devices symbolic of love.

Private Collection 

 


 


Barberi_Rome_34.jpg (65754 bytes)

SOUVENIR OF ROME

Rome, Micromosaic, c. 1855
Michelangelo Barberi
(8x11in., 20.3x28.6cm)

Framed by foliage are the Coliseum in moonlight on the left and St. Peter's Piazza on the right, separated by the Pincio Fountain. In the center foreground is a stone with the words, "Ricordo di Roma". This picture is based on a design for a table by the famous mosaicist Michelangelo Barberi which was commissioned by the Duke of Palmella. 

Illustrated: Gabriel, 2000, No. 34


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Interior of Capucin Convent

St. Petersburg, Micromosaic, c. 1825
Georgi Wekler
(17.5x14.5in., 44.5x36cm)

Formerly in the collection of czar Nicholas I, of Russia, this mosaic is modeled on a painting by Francois Marius Granet (1775-1849). The painting was acquired by Alexander I (1801-1825) of Russia, and hung in the winter palace in St. Petersburg. Wekler, the court mosaicist, was commissioned by the czar to product this micromosaic version in 1825. He was rewarded with a large bonus and a diamond ring. 

Illustrated: Gabriel, 2000, No. 38



THE RUINS OF PAESTUM - DETAIL

Rome, c 1830, Gioacchino Rinaldi

Micromosaic

(20 x 65 in; 50 x 164 cm)

Rinaldi executed at least six of these enormous views of Paestum after a painting by the Russian artist Feodor Matveev. Each is each said to have taken take five years to complete. Moglia also did a version of Paestum which was shown at London’s Great Exhibition of 1851. Paestum was an ancient Greek colony in south-east Italy which was rediscovered in the eighteenth century.

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No. 36

CHALICE

Rome, circa 1870

Micromosaic, Silver-gilt and enamel

(9 1/4 x 4 in.; 23.5 x 10 cm)

This ecclesiastical vessel is in the Gothic revival style, with reserves of micromosaics depicting Christian symbols, Christ and the four apostles. The tessearae are shiny in the historicizing fashion of Christian Byzantine mosaics. Inv. No 325  

Illustrated in Gabriel 2000, No. 325

SNUFFBOX WITH LANDSCAPE

Micromosaic, hardstone and gold, Rome c. 1820

(3 ½ x 2 1/8 x 7/8 in; 9 x 5.4 x 2.2 cm)

This mosaic scene is in the tradition of seventeenth century Arcadian landscapes by painters such as Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorraine, whose classical subjects had a revival in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century neo-classical period.

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No. 125

 

 

BRACELET WITH PEASANTS

Micromosaic, glass and gold, Rome c 1815-25

(8 x 1 in; 20.5 x 4 cm)

Depictions of peasants in regional costumes were popular subjects for micromosaics but are found less frequently than some mosaic subjects. It was commons for small mosaic to be set into colored glass such as the blue glass utilized in this colorful bracelet.

Illustrated in Gabriel 2000, No.69

NECKLACE

Micromosaic, gold, enamel and pearls, Rome c 1850

(Length: 23 in; 58.4 cm)

Cupids or Amorini were emblems of love, and were inspired by wall paintings discovered in the second half of the eighteenth century in ancient ruins such as those at Herculaneum and Pompeii.

 

 Illustrated in Gabriel 2000, No.180

 

SUITE OF JEWELRY

Glass mosaic  and gold

(Length Necklace: 17 1/4 In; 45 cm)

 About 1870 a revival of historical and archaeological styles emerged in jewelry which utilized images and techniques from past cultures. Early Christian religious mosaics of glass were an inspiration for the design of this jewelry suite which uses symbols such as the chi-rho and the dove, both symbols of Christ.

Illustrated in Gabriel 2000, No. 185

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MINIATURE GLASS MOSAIC BROOCHES

Rome, glass mosaic, 20th Century
(Diameter: 4cm, 2.4cm, and 4.5cm respectively)

After the decline of high quality micromosaics, a tourist industry developed which produced mosaic jewelry and "smalls", even to this day. These piece, made after about 1900, are a genre of their own. For the most part, they are crudely executed, unpolished, and use relatively large glass tesserae, set into rope-twist wire and metal mounts. In the current market they are incorrectly referred to as "Micromosaics". Here are some examples purchased on the Internet for around $10.00 U.S. each. 

LAVINIA AS FLORA
Micromosaic, Rome c 1830  
by Cavaliere Luigi Moglia
(14 x 12 in; 37 x 30.5 cm)

This micromosaic is a copy of Titian’s renaissance painting of 1555 which depicts his beautiful daughter, Lavina, posing as the goddess Flora (State Museum, Berlin). This mosaic picture brilliantly demonstrates the artistic potential of micromosaic. It reminds us that micromosiacs were developed in order to reproduce the paintings of St. Peter’s basilica which were rotting from dampness.  Luigi Moglia was one of the most esteemed mosaic artists of his time, and won a gold medal for his micromosaic, The Ruins of Paestum  at London’s ‘Great Exhibition’ of 1851.

Illustrated in Gabriel, 2000, No. 53.  

 

© 2002  Jeanette Hanisee Gabriel, All Rights Reserved. Images ©2002 Gilbert Collection unless otherwise noted.