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Tabletop

Tabletop

  • Place of origin:

    Rome (made)

  • Date:

    1860-1870 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    micromosaic, marble and malachite

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:GILBERT.951:2-2008

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Micromosaics developed into a popular Roman souvenir in the 19th century. The works shown here are among the most ambitious works ever created in this technique which uses minuscule glass pieces just as a painter uses brush-strokes. Cavaliere Michelangelo Barberi (1787-1867) trained as a painter and mosaicist. He nonetheless postulated that technical perfection was not an aim in itself, but rather a ‘service to Rome’ and Italy. The ancient art form mosaic, its revival and further evolution were part of a revolutionary message: at a time when Italians were fighting for political union, Barberi’s monumental tables brought together iconic views showcasing the shared cultural identity of Italy and its ancient roots.

The central panel of this table-top is a small-scale copy of the ‘Doves of Pliny’, an ancient floor mosaic praised by Pliny for its naturalism. Following its rediscovery in 1737, the design inspired a wave of new mosaics that imitated the effect of painting.

Roman monuments depicted (clockwise from top): Pantheon, Temple of Vesta (Tivoli), Colosseum and the Roman Forum

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

A circular tabletop inlaid with a micromosaic of the Capitoline Doves. The border is a circular band of green malachite. On the sides are oval mosaics showing the Pantheon, the Temple of Vesta, the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum, interlocked by floral festoons. The outer border of the tabletop, a wide band of two blue and two green mosaic sections, divided by tiny round mosaics of antique masks.

Place of Origin

Rome (made)

Date

1860-1870 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

micromosaic, marble and malachite

Dimensions

Diameter: 68.6 cm, Diameter: 67.5 cm Table top, Height: 2 cm Table top, Weight: 18.0 kg, Weight: 18 kg, Weight: 18 kg, Depth: 20 mm

Descriptive line

Table with doves and monuments of Rome; micromosaic; Rome, about 1860-70

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

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. 74, p. 136. ISBN 0856675113.

Labels and date

4. Table-top with ‘The Doves of Pliny’
About 1860–70

The central panel of this table-top is a small-scale copy of the ‘Doves of Pliny’, an ancient floor mosaic praised by Pliny for its naturalism. Following its rediscovery in 1737, the design inspired a wave of new mosaics that imitated the effect of painting. A border fragment of the original is displayed in room 72.

Rome, Italy, probably Michelangelo Barberi (1787–1867)
Glass micromosaic, marble, malachite
Roman monuments depicted (clockwise from top): Pantheon, Temple of Vesta (Tivoli), Colosseum and the Roman Forum
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.951:2-2008 [16/11/2016]

Materials

Mosaic glass; Marble; Malachite

Techniques

Micromosaic

Subjects depicted

Festoons; Love; Doves

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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