Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mastery of Design: The Castellani Peace Necklace, 1870

The V&A
Micromosaic and gold necklace
Castellani, 1870
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The Roman jewelry company of Castellani is considered as one of the first and finest makers of jewelry based on various ancient styles which had been uncovered through then-recent archaeological findings.

Alessandro Castellani remarked upon the firm’s introduction of micromosaic jewelry based on archaeological finds:  "At the time when we took up the subject the greater number of those who followed the occupation of working in mosaic at Rome were almost unemployed; […] We therefore applied mosaics to classical jewellery, imitating at first the antique scenic masks, and many Greek and Latin inscriptions, and our designs were very soon copied elsewhere."

This necklace of gold, made in 1870, shows Castellani’s fine micromosaic work with its woven chain of diverse-shaped pendants matching on each side. The medallions are arranged symmetrically on the chain and depict various symbols of peace, starting at hook clasp: a cherub, doves of peace, two crosses, another cherub and the Christian chi-rho motif; the central pendant with Cupid. The large pendants are hung with smaller pendants which show: roses, christian symbols, flowers, bunches of grapes and the moon and sun.

This necklace is part of an import parure which was once owned by Rosalinde Gilbert who, along with her husband, Sir Arthur, donated this suite along with their impressive collection of gems, gold, snuffboxes, enamels, portrait miniatures and other assorted treasures to the V&A.  

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