Guilbert-Martin, a trained chemist, was the proprietor of an important enamel factory in Grenelle, a small neighborhood in the southwest of Paris. In 1878, he was awarded the gold medal at the Universal Exposition in Paris for his presentation of a thousand different hues. His enamels became so successful that he opened a second atelier specifically for the manufacture of mosaics. His first public work, commissioned by the city of Paris in 1888, was installed in the apse at l’Eglise de la Madelaine and took five years to complete.
In 1896, he was commissioned to complete the tomb of Louis Pasteur at l’Institut Pasteur. The project would become the grandest of his public architectural works. Other notable public works under the direction of Guilbert-Martin include l’Opera-comique, the Pantheon, and the Palais-Royal theater.
The allegorical painting after which the present mosaic is copied, more commonly entitled Nettuno che offre doni a Venezia (Neptune Offering Gifts to Venice), was painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696-1770) around 1745. It now hangs in the Palazzo Ducale, Venice.
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