mosaic

Victoria and Albert: The Gilbert Collection: Table of Two Sicilies

Rome, Michelangelo Barberi (1787-1867), glass micromosaic and gilded bronze support. Commissioned by the Russian Tsar
Nicholas I (reigned 1825-1855): it shows the profile of his daughter Olga in the center. (Wikipedia tells us that she met her future husband, Crown Prince Charles of Württemberg, in early 1846 in Palermo, Two Sicilies, so perhaps the table commemorates that meeting, though we are not told what she was doing there, so far away from home and — presumably — her chaperons). The table represents views of famous bays of the Kingdom of Both Sicilies: Naples, Taormina, Palermo, Paestum, Tindari.

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Victoria and Albert: Gilbert Collection: Micromosaics

A Mr Gilbert — let it be said in his praise that he descended from Polish Jews — was a businessman and a collector, and, since he says in the introduction to the collection that “no one is remembered six months after they died, all that matters to me is my collection now”, we should honor his words by saying no more about him. Micromosaics, on the other hand, which he collected, are worth a few more words. They were principally made in Italy — chiefly in Rome — in the second half of the 19th century. The technique — along with dust-granulation — was revived following the discovery of some early Imperial Roman jewelry (containing both techniques) in the Tiber.

The pieces reproduced here are all between 1 and 2 inches across and the mosaics range from 250 pieces (the bird) to 2500 pieces (the landscapes) per square inch. The two landscapes with mythological figures are after Salvator Rosa, Mercury and Argos (acknowledged) and Landscape with the Wedding of Rebecca, after Claude (I think). The third — the one with reflected glare — remains unidentified. The glare is useful in bringing up the size of the pieces involved. The bracelet figures Aurora, after Guido Reni fresco in Pallavicini-Rospigliosi in Rome).