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  • Place of origin:

    Rome (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Micromosaic with gilt wood frame

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.222:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 73, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case West Wall []

The unnamed apostle turns his eyes upwards in awe towards the heavens. This gesture was a popular device in Baroque art to increase the intensity and emotion of the depiction.

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

Oval micromosaic, in an oval gilt frame, depicting the head of an Apostle with a grey beard and upturned eyes. He wears a green robe and his right arm is crossed towards the viewer's right.

Place of Origin

Rome (possibly, made)


ca. 1750 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Micromosaic with gilt wood frame


Height: 59 cm, Width: 48.5 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Christopher Gibbs Ltd., London, 1972.

Historical significance: The figure probably represents one of the twelve apostles. The original twelve were Simon, Peter, Andrew, James and John (sons of Zebedee), Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew (or Levi), Thomas, James (son of Alpheus), Jude (or Thaddeus), Simon and Matthias (who took the place of Judas).

Historical context note

The large rectilinear tesserae in this mosaic are characteristic of the altar mosaics created for St Peter's Basilica, Rome, in the early 18th century. Executed in the Baroque style, with the characteristic devise of portraying the figure with his eyes turned upwards in awe. During this period, the work of the Vatican Mosaic Workshop was restricted to Christian themes copied from paintings or cartoons or portraits of papal leaders. They were made for display in St Peter's Basilica or other Roman churches.

Descriptive line

Micromosaic depicting an apostle, Russia, 18th century

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

Avery, Charles, assisted by Arthur Emperatori. Mosaics from the Gilbert Collection: summary catalogue. Exhibition catalogue Victoria & Albert Museum. London: H.M.S.O. 1975, cat. no. 23.
Alfieri, Massimo, Maria Grazia Branchetti and Guido Cornini. Mosaici Minuti Romaniu del 700 et dell'800. Exhibition catalogue, Rome: Edizione del mosaico, 1986, fig. 48.

Labels and date

An Apostle
About 1700

The fiture of this apostle turns his eyes upwards in awe towards the heavens. This gesture was a popular device in Baroque art to increase the intensity and emotion of the depiction.

Italy; probably Vatican Mosaic Workshop, Rome
Glass mosaic with gilded wood frame
Museum no. Loan: Gilbert. 222:1,2-2008 [2009]


Mosaic glass; Gilt wood


Micromosaic; Framing; Gilding


Metalwork Collection

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