- Museum number
Bracelet with six openwork square gold links comprising nine circular compartments set with cabochon emeralds, rubies and gold beads, alternating with six chalcedony cameos in milled settings showing the profiled heads of Roman Emperors; each engraved with a monogram of backed C's and held in place with wire loops. The central link has an applied maker's mark.
- Production date
- 1860 (circa)
Diameter: 2.40 centimetres (cameo links)
Length: 22 centimetres (bracelet)
- Curator's comments
- Text from catalogue of Hull Grundy Gift (Gere et al 1984) no. 986:
This bracelet is one of a pair; see Peter 1970 (pl. 5), where it is shown combined as a necklace, the two bracelets together depicting the heads of the first twelve Roman emperors, the remaining six being Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. The Castellani firm is known to have produced variants of this design in the form of a single bracelet with a double row of cameos of the first twelve emperors, six above and six below, interspersed by gems and pearls (sold Christie's, New York, 28 May 1981, lot 228, col. ill.). Bracelet and necklace designs with similar gem-set motifs were drawn for the Castellani firm by Michaelangelo Caetani (see Gere 1972, pp. 120-7, pl.53; Gere 1975, pl. 32). Caetani's role in providing an artistic and intellectual stimulus to the Castellani style is discussed with 952.
It has also been suggested that the design is derived from a supposedly late-Roman or Byzantine bracelet of the fourth century AD from Viterbo in the Castellani firm's collection of ancient jewellery (see Fontenay 1887, p. 282, now in the Museo di Villa Giulia, Rome). According to Fontenay the bracelet is formed of square links made up of nine circular elements, the four corners set with emeralds or sapphires, with separating links in the form of a variety of square or rectangular-cut gem-stones in gold settings. However, in their present form as displayed in the Villa Giulia, the emeralds, sapphires and gold beads forming the 'square links' are simply strung together and there is no evidence that they originally formed a bracelet, though they were clearly known to Fontenay in this form in 1887 and may have been arranged in this way when they entered the Castellani collection.
Another example of this type of confusion should be quoted. Among the antiquities in the Castellani collection which were wrongly assembled either by themselves or before entering the family possession is the necklace acquired by the British Museum with the Castellani collection of 1872 (F. Marshall 1911, no. 2714, pl. LVIII). This so-called Roman necklace is formed of festoons of S-shaped gold beads and garnets, and was copied, in this unparalleled form, in the necklace made as part of a parure for the Countess of Crawford, with pearls replacing the garnets (Victoria and Albert Museum, M. 62-1921; Flower 1951, fig. 60b).
In 1860, while Alessandro Castellani was in Paris, he was invited to show a selection of his jewels to Napoleon III and he describes this event in a letter of 11 December to his father in Rome. Among the pieces chosen by the Emperor for himself were two bracelets with the twelve Caesars, 'i due [braccialetti] coi dodici Cesari'. As Napoleon lifted one of them, Alessandro records him as saying: 'Voila mes Cesars! ... Mr Castellani permettez moi de me retirer, sans quoi je vous acheterai tout.' (Quoted Francisci-Osti 1981, p. 637). Unfortunately there is no indication as to whether these bracelets were set with cameos or with coins - the latter is assumed by Francisci-Osti, with reference to a pair of bracelets set with coins of Roman emperors in the Museo di Villa Giulia.
For a discussion of the use of the backed Cs monogram on engraved gems, see 850. (Judy Rudoe)
Supplement to catalogue entry:
This is illus. in Peter, 1970, pl. 5, (Private Collection) complete with the pair from a set of two bracelets, also with six cameos of Roman emperors, making up the twelve [ref. included in cat. entry]. HG mss. note reads '1972 Mary found 1\2, i.e. the 2 bracelets made up to this necklace. Actually its better as a bracelet as its flat & not bent. It's the best Castellani I've ever seen - after asking £2,000 - he asked £1,500 & I eventually paid £1,350 which is awful but it's the first piece I've liked!'
See also Sotheby's New York, 20-21 October 1999, lot 155, bracelet with two rows forming the 12 heads, all in Roman coins, all in one bracelet, unlike the pair in Villa Giulia, referred to in cat. entry. (Charlotte Gere)
- On display (G47/dc11)
- 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
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: HG.426 (masterlist number)