Snuffbox, with micromosaic of Forum Romanum

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made in Italy

Postcard of Snuffbox, with micromosaic of Forum Romanum.
© National Museums Scotland

Snuffbox, with micromosaic of Forum Romanum

This small snuffbox is set with a coloured micromosaic of the Forum Romanum. The silver-gilt mounts were made in Rome between 1815 and 1826 by Camillo Picconi (master 1792-d1826).

The box is made of porphyry - a reddish-purple rock with large crystals of the mineral feldspar.

Micromosaics are built up of hundreds or thousands of minute tessarae - cubes or chips - of coloured glass. They were developed by mosaicists employed by the Vatican Mosaic Workshop who began to fear for their jobs as orders for large-scale mosaics began to dry up in the 1750s. The credit for their invention is generally given to Giacomo Raffaelli (1753-1836), an employee of the Vatican Workshop. He exhibited his work in his private studio in the Piazza di Spagna in 1775. A later guidebook reveals that there were at least twenty mosaic workshops in the vicinity of the Piazza around 1873-4, all frequented by tourists.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-038-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  A.1962.997
Date: Around 1825
c. 1850 - 1875
Material: Porphyry mounted in silver-gilt, set with a coloured mosaic medallion
Dimensions: 1.00" H x 1.88" L x 2.50" W
What: Box
Subject: Stone : miscellaneous
Where: Italy
Italy, Rome
Description: Box and cover of porphyry mounted in silver-gilt and set with a coloured mosaic medallion showing classical ruins in Rome: Italian, c. 1850 - 1875
  • Evans, G. Souvenirs From Roman Times to the Present Day. Edinburgh: NMS Publishing Ltd, 1999, pp 26-7. 
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