- Museum number
Gold brooch set with a circular micromosaic panel in the form of a Greek inscription, surrounded by a wreath of fluting vines with gold wire tendrils, the leaves and grapes outlined with gold wire strips or cloisons. The central medallion is bordered with beading and flaked by hinge-like projections ending in hollow cones covered with gold wire circles. On the reverse is an applied maker's mark.
- Production date
- 1860 (circa)
Width: 5.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from catalogue of Hull Grundy Gift (Gere et al 1984) no.952:
Although there is no obvious archaeological prototype for this piece, the design may have been suggested by a type of Byzantine bracelet of the sixth and seventh centuries, usually in carved openwork gold, constructed of a heavy hoop with central hinged medallion, the heads of the hinge-pins frequently in the form of decorated spheres or pine-cones. The most closely related examples of this type of bracelet are later nineteenth- or twentieth-century finds; there does not seem to be a traceable example which would have been known to the Castellani family in the mid-nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the idea of a bracelet with large elements separated by vertical hinge-pins with decorated heads was current among Roman jewellers of the mid-nineteenth century - see, for example, 913, set with cameos by Saulini in an 'archaeological-style' setting which may derive from an antique source.
Like most Castellani designs which were not produced to special commission, this brooch is not unique. A brooch with an exactly similar mosaic inscription and vine wreath, but flanked by two 'hinge-pins' with acorn-shaped terminals, from the collection of Alfredo Castellani (son of Augusto), was sold by the Rome auction house of P & P. Santamaria, after Alfredo's death, 15 December 1930 (lot 178).
The use of gold cloisons for the mosaic is a recurrent feature of the Castellani workshop. The technique was also practised by other Roman workshops producing mosaic jewellery (see 966), but rarely to such a high standard. The technique is almost certainly intended to imitate cloisonné enamel. An example of the direct substitution of cloisonne mosaic for cloisonné enamel is to be found in the copy by Castellani in the Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia, Rome, of a gold brooch in the Campana collection (now in the Musée de Cluny, Paris, illustrated in Hughes 1972, p. 189) with a winged beast in cloisonné enamel. The Castellani copy reproduces the same design and colours in mosaic instead of enamel. The Castellani workshop rarely produced examples of cloisonné enamel, relying far more heavily on their excellent mosaicists (see also 985). Unfortunately, few of the specialist workmen are named in the surviving records. Augusto Castellani, however, noted their deaths in his diary, but in only one case is the name of a mosaicist indicated. This was Luigi Podio, who died in 1888 and is described as head of the mosaic studio from 1851 (see Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, s.v. Castellani, p. 601).
The collection of jewellery made by the Castellani firm in the Museo di Villa Giulia, Rome, demonstrates the firm's frequent use of Latin and Greek inscriptions with some thirty to forty different examples. A number are religious, of Early Christian or Byzantine derivation (see 984), several are good luck wishes or amatory mottoes such as UBI AMOR IBI ANIMA (where my love is, there is my soul) on a bracelet designed by Augusto Castellani and illustrated in Fig. 65 with 955. In view of the political affiliations of the family, surprisingly few seem to be imbued with any specifically patriotic significance: NON RELINQUAM is perhaps one of them. The inspiration for many of these inscriptions seems to have come from Michelangelo Caetani, Duke of Sermoneta (1804-82), whose patronage of the Castellani firm brought them clients among the Roman nobility. Caetani's drawings and sketchbooks in the Palazzo Caetani archive in Rome abound in designs for jewellery incorporating inscriptions. Several were clearly carried out and the jewels exist in the Museo di Villa Giulia, including one of the few examples of literary derivation: LATET ANGUIS IN HERBA (the snake hides in the grass) from Virgil's ‘Eclogues’ 3, line 93, for which both design
and brooch survive, and ADES O HYMENAE HYMEN (come hither, oh marriage of marriages) from Catullus's poem 62. See also 922, a cameo portrait of Dante (adopted as a symbol of the Risorgimento by the Castellani firm) with an inscription from the ‘Inferno’. Unfortunately EYTE is not among the Caetani designs.
Many such inscribed pieces may have been made for English visitors keen to show off their knowledge of Latin and Greek. The young lady satirised by Punch in 1859 wears a bulla w'ith AEI (Greek, 'for ever'; see Introduction to this chapter [Gere et al 1984, pp.140-2] and Fig. 63, Plates, p. 240). Apart from this cartoon, depictions of inscribed 'archaeological-style' jewellery in portraits are rare. The portrait of Caroline Norton by William Etty, of c. 1840-45, depicting an 'archaeological-style' brooch inscribed SALVE (Latin, 'hail'), thus provides important evidence of the wearing of such pieces (see Introduction to this chapter and Fig. 61, Plates, p. 238). The Castellani firm produced a brooch of similar design bearing the same motto in Greek XAIPE (sold Christie's, Geneva, 15 November 1972, lot 392) (Judy Rudoe).
Information supplementary to Gere et al 1984:
See J. Rudoe, 'Jewellery at the Great Exhibition' in 'The Legacy of the Great Exhibition', Prince Albert Studies 20, Bayreuth 2002, pgs 69-82. Fig.2.11.
See also C. Gere & J. Rudoe, 'Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria: A Mirror to the World', London, British Museum, 2010, fig. 400 p.411. Caption: ‘Periodo Moderno: gold and micromosaic brooch with inscription, made in the Castellani workshops [in] Rome.’
Text: ‘The [Castellani] ledgers indicate that they made numerous other jewels with letters, almost all for stock. Some of these texts were executed in raised gold letters, almost always Roman capitals on a gold ground and often set within a Roman tabula; others were created in elegant two-colour micromosaic, the letters outlined in gold and silver wires. Like any other form of Victorian jewellery, there was a message for every occasion, but the use of Latin and Greek gave them an extra twist. Knowledge of the classical authors was taken for granted and travellers to Italy frequently undertook extra preparation, so the Castellani could assume that these texts would be understood.’ (Charlotte Gere)
Queen Victoria received a gift of a ‘Gold Brooch composed of a gold plate with “Salve” in gold letters, surmounted by an owl and with coral beads’ on 23 April, 1857: see Victoria and Albert, Art and Love (ed. Jonathan Marsden, 2010 p. 459) (Charlotte Gere)
- On display (G47/dc8)
- Exhibition history
2005 11 Nov-2006 26 Feb, Italy, Rome, Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia, The Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry
2004 17 Nov-2005 6 Feb, USA, New York, Bard Graduate Center, The Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry
1996 13 Sep - 1997 6 Jan, Austria, Vienna, Kűnstlerhaus GMBH, The Dream of Happiness
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: HG.403 (masterlist number)