A MICRO-MOSAIC INSET BLACK MARBLE TABLE TOP
Attributed to Vincenzo Raffaelli (1783-1865)
A micro-mosaic inset black marble circular table top, attributed to Vincenzo Raffaelli, first-half 19th century, the central roundel depicting a floral bouquet within an inset malachite border, surrounded by four oval reserves depicting the Temple of Vesta, the Tomb of Caecilia Metella, the Arch of Titus and the Capitoline Hill with the Palazzo Senatorio, within conforming malachite borders and linked by floral festoons tied with blue ribbons.
Vincenzo Raffaelli was the son of Giacomo Raffaelli, considered the master of micro-mosaic, working in a long family tradition documented as far back as 1668. Around 1815-20, following Giacomo’s return to Rome after the Restoration, he was appointed Consultant to the Emperor of Russia, Tsar Alexander I.
It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that fine stone inlay and micro-mosaic were combined on table tops, although both techniques had previously been associated with Roman workshops examples displaying the combination of technique were relatively rare.
The Raffaelli’s refined the technique of micro-mosaic by increasing the range of colours and decreasing the size of the tesserae. They mastered the art of using long strands of hot enamel which were sliced into tiny sections to form the tesserae. The most detailed examples contained more than 5,000 tesserae per square inch.
Sometime after 1850 Vincenzo moved to St Petersburg with his cousin Pietro following a commission from Tsar Nicholas I to set up an enamel furnace within the Russian Imperial Studio.
The present table top is a fairly typical example of Raffaelli's oeuvre, with depictions of famed Grand Tour sites in malachite reserves around a central micro-mosaic panel.
The use of malachite, as in the present example, enjoyed a resurgence in favour by the Russian Imperial Family following the discovery of reserves in the Ural Mountains in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Malachite would be used at the insistence of the Tsars for diplomatic gifts and important private commissions.
Measurements; 17 ½” (44cm) diameter, ¾” (2cm) depth