Italian Micromosaic Picture, ca. 1865

Value (2013) | $10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

This picture has been in my family for at least three generations. But in 1968, where this painting was housed, in a townhouse in Washington, D.C., there was a huge fire that gutted the townhouse. A lot of the roof came off, water dripping in, and the townhouse was never lived in again for the next 25 years. But when I went through things, I found this wrapped up in basically an old sheet, and I thought it was a painting. I didn't know that it was not a painting.

This is a micromosaic picture. It's a remarkable work of art in that it's composed of literally thousands of pieces of marble. And in other words, the artist who is responsible for this really painted with marble. I mean, those subtle color differences and nuances were all created by choice of color of marble, type of marble. This is a scene in Rome, the Palatine ruins. It was a popular tourist destination back then, as it is now. And oftentimes, I think when people went on the Grand Tour, they came back with mementos. I mean, this is a tourist item, but I think an ultimate tourist item. I would think that it dates from perhaps the 1860s or '70s. We don't know specifically who made this particular example. There are signed examples known. It's in remarkably good shape. The fact that it went through a fire is just astounding. I'm so glad it survived.

Me, too.

I believe that the frame is original. Underneath all that sort of goopy gold paint, probably the original gold leaf is still there, and they can do remarkable things as far as restoring the frame. I think it truly deserves that kind of attention. I think in light of its quality, its size, for auction purposes, I would estimate between $8,000 and $12,000.

Oh, my gosh.

It's a beauty. Thank you so much.

Thank you, that's wonderful news.

Appraisal Details

Skinner, Inc.
Marlborough, MA
Value Update (2013)
$10,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Appraised value (2007)
$8,000 Auction$12,000 Auction
Baltimore, MD (June 16, 2007)
19th Century

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