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  • Place of origin:

    Rome (made)

  • Date:

    1800-1825 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Micromosaic, gold mounts, hardstone box

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Barnyard fowl were popularly depicted in micromosaics, often alongside a predator, although in this case the scene is more light-hearted. Many such micromosaics were copied from paintings by seventeenth century northern European painters like Melchior de Hondecoeter (1636-96).

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

Round stone box, mounted in gold, on the cover a circular micromosaic depicting a farmyard with a chicken house on the left.

Place of Origin

Rome (made)


1800-1825 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Micromosaic, gold mounts, hardstone box


Diameter: 7.9 cm, Height: 2.5 cm

Object history note

Provenance: Halphen-Meyer, Paris, 1971.

Descriptive line

Bonbonnière with chickens, Rome, micromosaic, gold and hardstone, 1800-25.

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, no. 76.
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. 132, p. 201. ISBN 0856675113.


Hardstone; Gold


Forming; Mounting


Containers; Hardstone; Metalwork; Mosaic; Personal accessories


Metalwork Collection

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