Property from a Distinguished Private Collection


Egyptian-Revival Faience and Micromosaic Brooch | Castellani | 埃及復興風格錫釉瓷及微型馬賽克胸針

Auction Closed

December 7, 09:12 PM GMT


50,000 - 150,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from a Distinguished Private Collection

Castellani | Egyptian-Revival Faience and Micromosaic Brooch

Castellani | 埃及復興風格錫釉瓷及微型馬賽克胸針

Centering an Egyptian faience scarab carved with the baboon god, mounted within gold wings decorated with feathers in multi-colored tesserae, signed with interlaced Cs within a cartouche; circa 1860. With fitted box.

Please note the center scarab form may be 19th century, not ancient.
The Castellani Family: Alfredo Castellani, sold with part of his large collection of jewelry organized by P. and P. Santamaria in Rome, December 15-18, 1930, lots 48 and 50.

Christie's Geneva, Magnificent Jewels, May 14, 1987, lots 388-389.

Sotheby's London, Fine Jewels and Jewels for the Collector, June 23, 1994, lot 57.

Sotheby's New York, Castellani & Giuliano: The Judith H. Siegel Collection, December 6, 2006, lot 153.

Illustrated in Castellani and Giuliano, Revivalist Jewellers of the 19th Century by Geoffrey C. Munn, page 125. This illustration is taken from the Santamaria catalogue mentioned in the provenance for this lot.

Illustrated in 'A Watchful Wait', The Antique Dealer and Collectors Guide, by Geoffrey C. Munn, front cover and page 42.

Illustrated in Celebrating Jewellery by David Bennett and Daniela Mascetti, pages 77 and 88-89.

Illustrated in Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry, the catalogue from the exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center, New York, November 2004-February 2005, pages 168-169 and fig. 6-31.

The Bard Graduate Center, Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry, New York, November 2004-February 2005, page 169.

Somerset House, London, May-September 2005.

Villa Giulia, Rome, November 2005-February 2006.

Museum of Fine Arts, Past Is Present: Revival Jewelry, Boston, February 2017–August 2018.

The number of Egyptian-style pieces by Castellani that survive are few in number so this necklace (lot 79) and brooch (lot 78) are considered rare jewels in Egyptian taste produced by the firm. These spectacular examples of Castellani’s work in the Egyptian style are a deliberate nod to contemporary fashion in the 1860s and '70s that was all the rage ignited by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. A preparatory sketch of the necklace design by Luigi Podio is illustrated in Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry, ed. Susan Weber Soros and Stefani Walker, p.139, fig. 5-32. Podio was a master mosaicist who presided over the Castellani workshops from 1851 until his death in 1888. Podio’s sketches and extant fragments of the glass tesserae suggest the methods used in setting the mosaics. Small boxes of gold were formed and a plaster solution was poured into them. When the plaster hardened, this became the surface upon which red chalk was traced to set the design. Each section was then carved out by hand, thereby creating the spaces to insert the miniscule glass tesserae of various colors, bound by an adhesive. This same technique was also used in the creation of the winged scarab brooch. A brooch very similar to the one offered here, from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, is illustrated in the catalogue Egyptomania: Egypt in Western Art, 1730-1930, Louvre Museum, 1994, p. 360, no. 220.


Amulets in the shape of scarabs were produced in great abundance over a period of 2000 years, from the First Intermediate Period to Graeco-Roman times and not only in Egypt, as their forms were copied by local craftsmen in Syria and Palestine. The material used varied from gold to hardstone, glazed composition and glass. Ancient Egyptians considered the scarab beetle as a sacred symbol of spontaneous regeneration, life and resurrection. As a hieroglyph, the scarab has the phonetic value kheper, which means ‘to come into being.’ According to the ancient Egyptian legend of creation which centered on the city of Heliopolis, the sun god had three manifestations depending on the different time of the day. The rising sun was called Khepri and took the form of a scarab-faced man. In funerary scenes, Khepri was depicted as a large black beetle and represented the passage of the sun god from night to day, darkness to new life. In Egyptian iconography, the scarab is sometimes represented with a set of wings, underscoring the scarab’s rise toward heaven in resurrection.