At the time of the "Grand Tour", it became the height of fashion to visit the great capitals of Europe. To satisfy the desire for mementos and souvenirs in every price range, including the most lavish, Italy produced exceptional jewelry.. Since its long history of mosaics, it began producing wonderful miniature micro mosaics in jewelry and objects.
It is extraordinary to think of the thousands of tiny tiles (many less than a millimeter) that make up this piece of wearable art. Its poetic subject matter is that of three doves. So symbolic and meaningful with their many possible interpretations, it strikes an emotional chord.
Connotations run the gamut from the doves being the bearers of peace, to the religious symbolism of the Holy Spirit, even the bonds of love and even devotion (for both male and female doves care for their young). Birds in themselves frequently conjure up feelings of freedom and soaring spirits.
In the Etruscan style popular around the 1850's to 1870s, the18k gold brooch displays a central rectangular panel of three doves. Masterfully created by the artist G. Roccheggiani, he was employed at the exclusive Vatican workshop and created some of the highest quality examples.
The trio of birds, each distinct, are rendered in hues of ecru and pale pink, gray and white with terracotta hued eyes and a touch of black. The doves are placed amidst tiny white flowers and leaves against a black background.
Beneath rest triangular areas of filled with minute black and white tiles, albeit with their juxtaposition, they almost read blue-gray to the eye. All the panels are edged with twisted gold wire work and the center is finished with two finials of gold.
The design is well balanced and proportioned, and the size of the tiles and realistic renderings of the doves speak to its ultimate quality. In its original antique box, the label reads, "Manufacture de Mosaiques, G. Roccheggiani, Artiste, Rome, 13 Via Condotti, 15.
One of Roccheggiani’s pieces even resides in The Metropolitan Museum in New York. Via Condotti yesterday, as it is today, is one of the oldest and most renowned streets for fine shopping in Rome.