Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gifts of Grandeur: A Micromosaic Plaque in a Gold Frame, 1800-1840

Micromosaic Plaque
1800, Rome
Set in Gold Frame, 1840, England
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Created in Rome, circa 1800, by an unknown artist, we can see the care taken with such micromosaic pieces. This micromosaic employs tiny square pieces of glass, known as “tesserae,” to make up the background, giving the solid-color surface a natural pattern of straight lines . This fact combined with the simple perspective indicates that it’s an early example of the micromosaic technique which was in the process of being refined in Rome towards the end of the 18th century. 

The frame, however, is of later creation—dated to about 1840 and thought to be made in England. Micromosaics were popular souvenirs for tourists visiting Rome as they could be easily purchased for a low cost and brought back to England and to America without effort. As was the case with this adorable canine scene, these souvenirs were often brought home by travelers who had them set into pieces of jewelry or sometimes incorporated into boxes or cases. 

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