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The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
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The earliest attempts at the technique of micromosaic revealed visible joins between the pieces of glass (known as tesserae) and a lack of perspective. Evidence of this early style, about 1775-1800, can be seen in the mosaic on this box. The subject, in this case an ancient amphora or storage vase, is seen on a straight ground and the overall image lacks depth. The background is formed of straight rows of tesserae, mostly cut crudely. As the technique developed, the edges of the individual glass pieces become smoother and more curved.
This particular mosaic has been attributed to Giacomo Raffaelli (1753-1836), a leading figure in the art of mosaics and often credited with having invented the technique of micromosaics. Characteristic of his style is the use of antique subject matters and borders formed of dotted tesserae. Other works by Raffaelli can be seen in the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection.
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.
Boat shaped patch box with antique vase, micromosaic, gold, gilt metal, moss agate, diamond; possibly Giacomo Raffaelli, probably Rome, 1775-1800
Labels and date
4. Patch box
Probably Rome, Italy
Glass micromosaic, gold, gilded metal, moss agate and diamond
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.954:1-2008 [16/11/2016]
Personal accessories; Metalwork