The present urns mounted with very fine micromosaic panels depicting birds and butterfiles are very similar to the work of known Italian micromosaic artists who were working in Rome, namely Giacomo Raffaelli (1753-1836), Antonio Aguatti (d. 1846) and Nicola de Vecchis (d. 1834). A pair of two-handled vases by de Vecchis reputedly given as gifts by Pope Pius VII to Napoleon at his coronation which then became part of the collection of Empress Josephine at Malmaison is now in the Gilbert Collection and is illustrated, Jeanette Hanisee Gabriel, The Gilbert Collection Micromosaics, London, 2000, no. 13, p. 65.
Giacomo Raffaelli came from a family that supplied the Vatican mosaic workshop with smalti, the material of which micromosaics are made. His work is characterized by remarkably naturalistic depictions of birds and foliage of antique inspiration. The depiction of a solitary bird on a branch was probably inspired by 17th century pietre dure plaques produced at the Opificio in Florence. Patronized by Pope Pius VI (1775-1779) and King Stanilaus-August Poniatowski of Poland in 1775, at age twenty-two, he gave the first exhibition at his Rome studio of miniature mosaics. One of his earliest known examples is a small round plaque, signed and dated 1779 depicting the Doves of Pliny (British Museum), however, numerous pieces attributed to Raffaelli, such as the eight miniature mosaics on an inkstand in the Wallace Collection, are unmarked.