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Picture

  • Place of origin:

    Rome (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1775-1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Vatican Mosaic Workshop (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Glass micromosaic, marble and slate with gilded wood frame

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.185:1, 2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    Gold, Silver and Mosaics, Room 72, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Galleries, case East Wall []

This micromosaic copies one of a group of five sibyls which Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-12). Because they were known for their prophetic gifts, the pagan sibyls were depicted by Michelangelo alongside the Christian prophets.

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 micromosaic depicting Michelangelo's Erythrean Sibyl. She sits in right profile on an architectural platform wearing colourful ancient garments. She points to a large book with her left hand while her right hand hangs at her side. Behind her are two putti, one lighting an oil lamp. The mosaic is set into a plaque and a gilt frame.

Place of Origin

Rome (probably, made)

Date

1775-1800 (made)

Artist/maker

Vatican Mosaic Workshop (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Glass micromosaic, marble and slate with gilded wood frame

Dimensions

Height: 25.9 cm mosaic only, Width: 20.3 cm mosaic only, Height: 40.0 cm including frame, Width: 34.6 cm including frame, Weight: 4.5 kg including frame

Object history note

Provenance: Mayfair Gallery Ltd., London, 1996.

Historical significance: The attribution to the Vatican workshop is based on the fact that its predominant source of subject matter was the religious art in the Vatican.

Historical context note

The Sibyls, gifted with the power of prophesy, addressed the Gentiles and thus symbolized the New Testament; whereas the Prophets, who addressed the Jewish peoples, represent the Old Testament. Each Sibyl was named after the nation of her mission; thus the Erythraen Sibyl was named after Ionia. Her role was to teach enlightenment to the Church. She prophesied the details of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ and the Last Judgment, which was the subject of the altarpiece in the Sistine Chapel.

Descriptive line

Micromosaic picture depicting the Erythraean Sibyl after Michelangelo, micromosaic and marble with gilt wood frame, Vatican Mosaic Workshop, Italy, 1775-1800.

Labels and date

'The Erythraean Sibyl'
1775-1800

This micromosaic copies one of a group of five sibyls which Michelangelo painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-12). Owing to their prophetic gifts, these pagan figures were depicted alongside the Christian prophets.

Italy; probably Vatican Mosaic Workshop, Rome
Glass micromosaic, marble and slate with gilded wood frame
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert. 185:1,2-2008 [2009]

Materials

Mosaic glass; Marble; Gilt wood; Slate

Techniques

Micromosaic; Setting; Framing; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Putti; Oil lamp; Religion

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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