B uilding on the success of the past two sales dedicated to marble and hardstones, we are pleased to announce a third edition of STONE. Once again, the sale will be offering exquisite works of art, objects and pieces furniture made of, or incorporating, marbles, hardstones and micromosaics. The sale, open for online bidding, reflects the enduring strength of collecting in this exciting field and explores the incredibly rich use of these materials in European Decorative Arts, with an emphasis on their rarity, colour and craftmanship.
“There does not exist a single slab, or column, or tiniest fragment of ancient marble in any church or gallery or workshop n Rome, which was not brought there expressly at fabulous expense, and at the cost of infinite labour, by the very same old Romans who built the Palaces of the Caesars and the Baths of Caracalla, and the Colosseum. Under the rule of the Emperors, Rome was a city of marble”
These are some of the first words of Rev Henry W. Pullen in his Handbook of Ancient Roman marbles (1894) which show how the Roman Empire, through these captivating materials, permeated the many layers of Roman life to this day. These stones, brought from all over the Empire, embody the longevity of the Roman culture, and their use after the Renaissance, reclaiming the materials from ancient ruins, reaffirm the capital’s title as the Eternal city.
It was therefore appropriate that the sculptures and decorative objects fashioned from marbles and coloured stones inspired, by, copying or emulating the Ancient past, were coveted by the great collectors and Grand Tourists of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, some being produced precisely as mementos of their passage through the city.
Micromosaics of Rome
The most popular subject matters in micromosaics were certainly Ancient Roman monuments and mosaicists usually based their renditions from engravings circulating at the time such as those of Giovanni Piranesi. Here, in this mesmerizing specimen marble and micromosaic table, clockwise around the table border starting at noon are views of the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, the Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Lugano Bridge, the Forum of Augustus, the Arch of Gallienus, Castello San'Angelo, The Pantheon, the Trevi fountain, the Roman Forum, the Capitoline Hill, the Temple of Hercules at Cori, the Fontana dell'Acqua Paola in Montorio, the Arch of Titus, the Quirinal Palace and Square, Tivoli on the Tiburtine Hills, the Temple of Vesta, the Tomb of Cecilia Metella, the Temple of Minerva Medica, the Colosseum, the Salario bridge, the Arch of Janus Quadrifrons, and the Arch of Constantine.
- The Temple of Saturn
- The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
- The Temple of the Sibyl at Tivoli
- The Arch of Septimius Severus
- The Lugano Bridge
- The Forum of Augustus
- The arch of Gallienus
- Castello San'Angelo
- The Pantheon
- The Trevi fountain
- The Roman Forum
- The Capitoline Hill
- The Temple of Hercules at Cori
- The Fontana dell'Acqua Paola in Montorio
- The Arch of Titus
- The Quirinal Palace and Square
- Tivoli on the Tiburtine Hills
- The Temple of Vesta
- The Tomb of Cecilia Metella
- The Temple of Minerva Medica
- The Colosseum
- The Salario bridge
- The Arch of Janus Quadrifrons
- The Arch of Constantine
- St. Peter's Square and St. Peter’s Basilica
Micromosaics depicting views of the Eternal city or scenes routed in the Ancient Roman culture were must-have treasured tokens Grand Tourists would take back from their journey to Rome. The painstaking technique, involving creating images with tiny pieces of coloured glass, still leaves amateurs and collectors in awe. In the sale, are included beautiful examples of this astonishing art, depicting Antique monuments imbued with the Grandeur of Rome as well as natural subjects or religious scenes.
The taste for marbles, driven by the craze for Antiquity and for cabinets of curiosities, encouraged the creation in Italy throughout the 18th and 19th centuries of several types of objects, veritable libraries of samples, taking the form of cabinets, caskets or table tops where aesthetic pleasure was skillfully combined with scientific pretensions. The selection of marble samples was generally based on aesthetics rather than on scientific criteria, giving more importance to chromatic harmonies rather than the mineralogical interest of the samples: the same marble could be repeated several times across one table top for example. Additionally, excavations and the discovery of Ancient Roman sites favoured the creation of table tops which no longer only celebrated the type of each marble but also promoted the historical and geographical interest of each sample’s provenance.