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Outstanding Antique Micro Mosaic Paperweight - Doves of Pliny
One can see many antique pieces from the 1800s that are of varying quality. However, one rarely sees the quality of this weight. Usually one sees the small pieces that make up the scene poorly fitted. But this is a true work of art. All of the tiny tessera are perfectly sized and fitted. The weight is very smooth to the touch. It is a beautifully shaped piece, rather than a simple square or rectangle.
Size: 5 1/16" by 3 13/16" x 1/2".
Country of Origin: Italy.
Circa: Mid 1800s.
Condition: The scene is Excellent with no missing tessera. The background shows wear. Small edge nicks. The bottom has a light crack that does not go through to the top. Overall, with the exception of the scene, the overall condition is better than one would expect from an object of substantial age that has been displayed/handled/used, usually over the lifetimes of several owners.
The Doves of Pliny have been artistically rendered in micromosaics since the second century before Christ. Sosus of Pergamon was a Greek mosaic artist of the second century before Christ and is the only mosaic artist whose name was recorded in literature.
After the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Greeks of major centers such as Pergamon and Alexandria displayed their wealth in decorations that included mosaics. Pliny the Elder says Sosus's mosaic work included an image of a dove drinking, and that the water reflected the shadow of the dove's head. The image, meant to be mounted on a wall, was said to be so realistic that real doves flew into it while trying to reach their stone companions.
In one of the rooms on the upper floor of the museum of the Capitol at Rome are the celebrated Doves of Pliny, one of the finest and most perfectly preserved specimens of ancient mosaic. It represents four doves drinking, with a beautiful border surrounding the composition. The mosaic is formed of natural stones, so small that 160 pieces cover only a square inch.
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