Brooch, Castellani, c.1875
Micromosaic and gold
centred with a yellow gold circular reserve with rope twist border displaying a micromosaic of the cypher of Pope Pascal I (817-824) formed from blue and white glass tesserae, the mosaic flanked either side by bound foliate stems which extend to the reverse to form brooch fittings.
Signed with Castellani’s cypher
Diameter of reserve: 3cm
A similar brooch bearing the cypher of Pope Pascal I in red and white tesserae forms part of the collection at the Museo Nazionale Etrusco di Villa Giulia in Rome and is illustrated on page 160 of Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry (Weber et al, 2004).
The cypher is derived from a mosaic roundel on the apse and arch above the altar in the Basilica Saint Prassedes in Rome. Pope Pascal is credited with building a number of churches in the city. The cypher is accompanied by an inscription which states that his hope was that this work had secured his place in heaven.
Castellani’s creations proved popular with visitors on the Grand Tour in Italy, as they wanted refined and beautiful souvenirs. It would have delighted customers to be able to purchase a meticulously crafted miniature of one of the masterpieces they had seen during their visit to Rome, to serve as a testament to their newly developed connoisseurship of Classical and Renaissance culture.