Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Gilbert Micromosaic Bracelet, 1870

the V&A
Roman Micromosaic Bracelet,
Italy, 1870
Part of a Parure
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Sir Arthur and Rosalinde Gilbert, as we’ve discussed before, amassed one of the world’s most important collections of silver, mosaics, enameled portrait miniatures, jewels, gold objects and snuffboxes—a collection which they bequeathed to the Victoria & Albert Museum. 

This magnificent micromosaic bracelet is just one of the beautiful pieces in the collection.  As the collection notes state, “The grandeur of the gold work and the imposing scale of this piece, part of a set of jewellery, are in sharp contrast with the simple, rustic scenes depicting figures in traditional costume.”

Characteristic of the grandly set pastoral scenes which defined micromosaic jewels of the 1870s, this gold bracelet is set with an octagonal micromosaic depicting a seated woman in peasant dress with a sheep at her side.  The scene is enveloped by a gold frame with five graduated arch-shaped micromosaics on the top and bottom.  The two side panels, attached to two gold panels with spool-shaped hinges, hold a micromosaic of a dove with a laurel branch.

This was made in Rome, Italy, about 1870, by an unknown jeweler.  The work is similar to that of the Roman firm of Castellani which is credited for introducing historical styles in micromosaics in the second half of the nineteenth century.  However, we can’t be certain that this piece comes from the Castellani workshop.  

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