Lot 28
  • 28

An Italian gilt-bronze framed mosaic panel, Rome, by the Vatican Mosaic Workshop, circa 1835-1845

40,000 - 70,000 EUR
391,500 EUR
bidding is closed


  • bronze micromosaic
  • View 51 x 51 cm, frame haut. 90 cm, larg. 67,5 cm, prof. 9,5 cm ; view 20 x 20 in; frame height 35 1/2  in; width 26 1/2  in; depth 3 3/4  in
probably depicting Greek goddesses Tyche and Athena, set within a gilt-bronze and metal frame with the coat of arms of Pope Gregory XVI


Franco di Castro Gallery, Rome

Catalogue Note

Clearly inspired by classical Roman mosaic emblemata, this exquisite panel was commissioned from the Vatican Mosaic Studio by Pope Gregorius XVI (b.1765- d.1846), who reigned as Pope from 1831 until his death in 1846 and this was most likely a gift for a high dignitary, such as a foreign diplomat. It seems to depict Greek goddesses Tyche, who ruled the fortune and prosperity of a city, and Athena, deity of wisdom, courage and war in a non-canonical composition which includes an eagle carrying the victor's wreath, which stands for Zeus, a sacrificial tripod standing for Apollo, and an enigmatic blank legionary standard. During classical times, an emblema was a figurative panel used as a focal point to larger floor mosaics, manufactured in terracotta or stone trays by specialized workshops to be later set in larger floor compositions.

Such diplomatic gifts, produced by the Vatican Workshop and traditionally copying paintings, were then an established custom, but it is interesting to note in the present lot, Gregorio XVI moves away from this tradition, commissioning here a new design, inspired by the Antique. The Pope was a sophisticated enthusiast of classical culture, particularly of archaeology and under his patronage three museums dedicated to Etruscan, Egyptian, and Roman and Greek antiquities were established (Museo Gregoriano Etrusco, Museo Gregoriano Egizio, Museo Gregoriano Lateranense).

The British Museum recently acquired a Roman emblema, circa 50BC-50DC, (BM 2009, 5005.1), presented by Gregory XVI to Sir Edward Thomason in 1832, with a comparable bronze frame, although lacking the papal coat of arms