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Auctioneer unveils extraordinary micromosaic for Jan. 30 sale
|Written by CATHERINE SAUNDERS-WATSON, Auction Central News International|
|Monday, 10 January 2011 09:56|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tourist souvenirs haven’t always been confined to kitschy keychains and fridge magnets. In the 19th century, nobles and aristocrats from Britain, northern Europe and America who indulged in a Grand Tour of “the Continent” usually returned home from their cultural pilgrimage with such mementos as fine cameos, coins, medals or artworks.
Italy – especially Rome and Venice – were must-see destinations on a Grand Tour itinerary, and many Italian artists capitalized on the opportunity to sell to the influx of well-heeled visitors. One of them was the master mosaicist Cesare Roccheggiani, who was active at the Vatican workshops from 1856 to 1864.
Roccheggiani’s fellow mosaic artists, of whom there were many in Rome at that time, were prolific creators of jewelry and miniature art objects for the tourist trade. Very few, however, possessed the talent and ability to produce a monumental micromosaic of the quality seen here.
Measuring 32 by 59 inches and weighing more than 100 lbs., the panoramic view of the Roman Forum attributed to Roccheggiani is the star lot in Myers Auction Gallery’s Jan. 30 European & Asian Antiques auction.
Since the 1920s, the artwork had rested above a mantel in the residence of a prominent Tampa businessman. When the home was sold in the 1980s, the buyer was given the option of purchasing some of the existing furnishings. The micromosaic was among the pieces selected. Now, through descent, the estate artwork is headed to auction.
“While unsigned, we believe it is almost certainly the work of Roccheggiani,” said Michael Myers, founder and co-owner of Myers Auction Gallery. “A micromosaic nearly identical in size and subject matter, and artist-signed by Rocchegiani, was auctioned last month at Christie’s London gallery for more than half a million dollars.”
The exquisite artistry in the circa-1879 work to be auctioned by Myers renders a photorealistic quality. “It’s so luminous, it even fooled a visitor who walked into our gallery and thought they were looking at a picture on a flat-screen TV,” said Mary Dowd, Michael’s wife and business partner. “An artwork as stunning as this one would have been very expensive in its day and available only to a very wealthy buyer.”
In the Jan. 30 auction, the micromosaic attributed to Cesare Roccheggiani will be offered with a $100,000-$200,000 estimate. Internet live bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com. The online auction catalog will be available to view online soon at www.LiveAuctioneers.com.
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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE
|Last Updated on Monday, 10 January 2011 15:34|