Highly important 19th C. Italian micromosaic leads Myers Auction Gallery's Jan 30 sale Attributed to Vatican artist Cesare Roccheggiani, a spectacular circa-1870s micromosaic of the Roman Forum headlines Myers Auction Gallery's Jan. 30 sale of European and Asian Fine Art & Antiques.
News-Antique.com - Jan 14,2011 - ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – A remarkable Italian micromosaic artwork depicting the Roman Forum and attributed to Vatican artist Cesare Roccheggiani has emerged from a Florida residence after nearly 90 years of unobtrusive display and will be auctioned on Jan. 30, 2011. The important estate discovery will be offered at Myers Auction Gallery in St. Petersburg as the star attraction in a 500-lot sale of fine European and Asian antiques.
Measuring 59 inches wide by 32 inches long and weighing over 100 lbs., the circa-1870s panoramic depiction of Rome was composed from hundreds of thousands of minute pieces of non-reflective glass. It is believed to be the work of master mosaicist Cesare Roccheggiani, who was active at the Vatican workshops from 1856 to 1864.
“While unsigned, we believe it is almost certainly the work of Roccheggiani,” said Michael Myers, founder and co-owner of Myers Auction Gallery. “An 1879 micromosaic nearly identical in size and subject matter, artist-signed by Rocchegiani, was auctioned in December at Christie’s London gallery for more than half a million dollars.”
Quite likely, the glass mosaic to be auctioned by Myers was a commissioned work created for a wealthy nobleman or aristocrat visiting Italy during a Grand Tour of Europe. “Many Italian artists capitalized on the opportunity to sell mosaic jewelry and miniatures to the influx of well-heeled visitors of that period, but few possessed Roccheggiani’s ability to produce a monumental micromosaic of such superior quality,” Myers said.
“It’s so luminous, it almost looks like a photograph. It even fooled a visitor who walked into our gallery and thought they were looking at a picture on a flat-screen TV,” added Mary Dowd, Michael’s wife and business partner.
Since the 1920s, the artwork attributed to Roccheggiani 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 with a conservative $100,000-$200,000 estimate.
Among the paintings on the auction roster are a Jean Ferdinand Monchablon (French, 1855-1904) oil-on-canvas wildflower landscape estimated at $8,000-$12,000; and a pre-1920 Edouard Leon Cortes (French, 1882-1969) gouache on board street scene of Paris in wintertime, from the estate of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Douglas Moore (1893-1969). Its estimate is $8,000-$10,000. The fine art section also includes a pair of handsome equine paintings by British artist Harry Hall (1814-1882), each estimated at $1,500-$2,500.
Approximately 30 lots of Asian and European carved ivory works are scheduled to sell. Within the grouping are fans, figures and four extremely desirable 19th-century miniature portraits, each depicting a member of Russia’s Romanov family.
A selection of period European bronzes is led by two Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, 1824-1875) sculptures, including the 22-inch-high Allegory of Friendship, $4,000-$6,000; and Jean Baptiste Carpeaux’s (French, 1827-1875) Winkle Gatherer, 28 3/8 inches high and estimated at $4,000-$6,000. The category also features a 31-inch bronze rooster by Jules Moigniez