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Brooch

  • Place of origin:

    Rome (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1825 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Micromosaic with a gilded silver (silver-gilt) frame

  • Credit Line:

    The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.162-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case 6, shelf DU1

With her mother and brother, Beatrice Cenci (1577-99) arranged for her tyrannical father, Francesco, to be assassinated. The trio succeeded and as a result were executed in 1599. The tale of the Cenci proved a popular literary theme. The English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) dramatised the events in a five-act verse tragedy.

The term 'micromosaic' is used to describe mosaics made of the smallest glass pieces. Some micromosaics contain more than 5000 pieces per square inch. The earliest attempts at micromosaic revealed visible joins between the pieces (known as tesserae) and a lack of perspective. Later artists such as Antonio Aguatti made huge advances in micromosaic technique, resulting in renderings that were truer to life. Glass micromosaic technique developed in the 18th century, in the Vatican Mosaic Workshop in Rome, where they still undertake restoration work today.

Sir Arthur Gilbert and his wife Rosalinde formed one of the world's great decorative art collections, including silver, mosaics, enamelled portrait miniatures and gold boxes. Arthur Gilbert donated his extraordinary collection to Britain in 1996.

Physical description

Rectangular silver-gilt frame micromosaic depicting a bust length portrait of Beatrice Cenci after Guido Reni. She wears a white robe and cap and has long reddish-brown hair.

Place of Origin

Rome (made)

Date

1800-1825 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Micromosaic with a gilded silver (silver-gilt) frame

Dimensions

Length: 4.3 cm, Width: 3.5 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Koopman and Son, London, 1975.

Historical significance: The Cenci family lived in the Old Ghetto in Rome. After Beatrice's father Francesco Cenci (1549-98) was murdered in his bed by Beatrice's friend and a hired assasin, the family was arrested, tortured and imprisoned in the Savelli and then in the Castel St. Angelo, Rome. They were convicted by the Pope and executed on 11 September 1599. They were buried at the church of St. Peter in Montorio.

Historical context note

The portrait of Beatrice Cenci (1577-99) on which this micromosaic is based is attributed to Guido Reni (1575-1624) and is in the Uffizi Palace, Florence.

Descriptive line

Brooch with Beatrice Cenci, micromosaic, silver-gilt, Rome, 1800-25.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Gabriel, Jeanette Hanisee with contributions by Anna Maria Massinelli and essays by Judy Rudoe and Massimo Alfieri. Micromosaics: The Gilbert Collection. London: Philip Wilson Publishers Ltd. in association with The Gilbert Collection, 2000. 310 p., ill. Cat. no. 167, p. 233. ISBN 0856675113.

Labels and date

5. Brooch with Beatrice Cenci, possibly after Guido Reni, 1800–25

Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.162-2008 [16/11/2016]
Brooch with Beatrice Cenci
1800–25

With her mother and brother, Beatrice Cenci (1577–99) arranged for her tyrannical father to be assassinated. The trio succeeded and were executed in 1599. The tale of the Cenci proved a popular literary theme. The English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) compiled a five-act verse drama of the event.

Rome, Italy; mosaic possibly after Guido Reni (1575–1624)
Glass micromosaic and gilded silver frame
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.162-2008 [2009]

Production Note

Mosaic possibly after Guido Reni (1575-1624).

Materials

Mosaic glass; Silver-gilt

Techniques

Micromosaic; Gilding; Framing

Categories

Portraits; Metalwork; Jewellery

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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