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  • Place of origin:

    Rome (made)

  • Date:

    1775-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Aguatti, Cesare (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.178:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

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

This panel, along with its pair, was probably intended as a wall decoration or for setting into chimneypieces. The vines and other motifs related to Bacchus, god of wine, whose chariot in classical literatures was traditionally drawn by tigers and goats.

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

Two narrow micromosaic panels with light blue ground, each depicting a vertical thyrsus entwined with grapevines, held at the lower end by a red-figure amphora. One scene depicts two goats, one eating grapes, which spill over the edge of the vase, the other emerging from behind the vase's right side. A set of pan pipes lies in the left-front foreground. The pendant portrays two tigers in the reverse poses to the goats, while a pair of cymbals lie in the left-centre foreground.

Place of Origin

Rome (made)


1775-1800 (made)


Aguatti, Cesare (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Micromosaic with gilt wood frame.


Height: 80 cm mosaic only, Width: 16.5 cm mosaic only

Object history note

Provenance: Anon, sale, C.G. Sloan, Washington D.C., 6 February 1977, lot 1340.

Historical significance: These panels are attributed to Cesare Aguatti by comparison with his documented mosaics in the entrance hall known as the Hall of Emperors of the Villa Borghese commissioned by Prince Marcantonio Borghese.
Cesare Aguatti was active in Rome during the last half of the 18th century. At the Vatican Mosaic Workshop he worked under Giovanni Angelo Braschi, Pius VI (r.1775-9). One of the earliest mosaicists to work in miniature, he was among the first to use tiny spun smalti.

He also worked on the restoration of the floors of the Baths of Otricoli in the Rotunda of the Pio-Clementine Museum. Mantelpieces by him survive in the Louvre, Paris and at Penrice Castle, Glamorgan, Wales.

Historical context note

Probably intended as wall panels or chimney pieces, these represent bacchic allegories. The thyrsus, a wand tipped with a pine cone, is a symbol of fertility and an attribute of Bacchus and the satyrs, his attendants. Goats and tigers drew Bacchus's chariot; the grape laden vine is a reference to Bacchus role as god of wine; the pan pipes and tambourines refer to bacchanalian revelry.

Descriptive line

Two narrow micromosaic panels, Rome, ca.1780, by Cesare Aguatti.

Labels and date

Pair of mosaic panels with grapevines

These panels were probably intended as wall decorations or for setting into chimneypieces. The vines and other motifs related to Bacchu, god of wine, whose chariot in classical literature was traditionally drawn by tigers and goats.

Rome, Italy; probably Cesare Aguatti (active 1750-1800)
Glass micromosaic
Museum nos. Loan:Gilbert.178:1,2;179:1,2-2008 []


Mosaic glass; Gilt wood


Micromosaic; Framing




Metalwork Collection

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