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The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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The interest in classical archaeology and discoveries of ancient sites in the late 18th and early 19th century triggered a fashion in jewellery. This set of jewellery is inspired by the innovative Roman company Castellani that produced jewellery in various ancient styles. The choice of subjects on the micromosaic plaques is drawn from Christian symbolism as well as ancient Greek and Roman mythology, such as the masks on the ring and brooch of the set. Alessandro Castellani remarked upon the introduction of micromosaic jewellery through his company: "At the time when we took up the subject the greater number of those who followed the occupation of working in mosaic at Rome were almost unemployed; […] We therefore applied mosaics to classical jewellery, imitating at first the antique scenic masks, and many Greek and Latin inscriptions, and our designs were very soon copied elsewhere." (Gabriel, 2000, p. 248)
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.
On long-term loan to Los Angeles County Museum from 2010.
Object history note
Provenance: Sale, Sotheby's New York, lot 3, 10-11 April 1985.
Brooch, gold and micromosaic, Italy, ca. 1870.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Lenti, Lia, and Maria Cristina Bergesio. Dizionario del Gioiello Italiano del XIX e XX Secolo. Turin: Allemandi 2005. Ill. p 193.
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. 185, pp. 248-249. ISBN 0856675113
Williams, Elizabeth A. The Gilbert Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), 2010, fig. 42, pp. 72-73. ISBN 9780875872100
Volcanoes; Apple; Religion (concept); The Seasons; The Four Elements; Water; Cherub; Moon; Christianity; Grapes; Roses; Day; Anchor; Fish; Wheat; Night; Stars; Four elements