The circular black marble top with central roundel depicting Romulus, Remus and the she-wolf in an Italiante landscape, surrounded by eight Roman scenes depicting, in clockwise order, the Pantheon, Arch of Constantine, Capitoline Hill, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Forum, Castel Sant’Angelo, Temple of Hercules Victor, with inlaid malachite and vari-tone Greek-key borders, on an associated black marble pedestal base, the underside with paper label 'C. ROCCHEGGIANI / ARTIST / SOLE MANUFACTURY / OF ROMAN MICROMOSAICS / VIA CONDOTI, 14-15 / ROME (ITALY)'
2934 in. (75.5 cm.) high, 3712 in. (95.3 cm.) diameter
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Lot Essay

The accomplished mosaicist Cesare Roccheggiani was active at the Vatican workshops from 1856 to 1864, but like many of his contemporaries sought to supplement his income by establishing his own workshop making mosaics for dealers and tourists on Grand Tour. His private atelier is recorded at 125 Via Babuino and then, by 1874, at 14 & 15 Via Condotti.
In her extensive research of the artist, Jeanette Hanisee-Gabriel suggests that he may also have apprenticed under the celebrated master Michelangelo Barberi, evidenced by his apparent use of Barberi’s distinctive designs. The central roundel of Romulus and Remus after Rubens with its monochromatic acanthus border and radiating views is incorporated on two tabletops, titled Il bel cielo d'Italia, attributed to Barberi (J. Hanisee-Gabriel, Micromosaics: Private Collections, 2016, p. 32-33). A related table by Barberi commissioned in 1845 by Tsar Nicholas I is now in the Hermitage.
As a likely successor to Barberi, Roccheggiani's skill was unparalelled and is perhaps most apparent on large scale works such as the present lot and in a series of monumental panels produced circa 1878-79. A large panel depicting St. Peter’s Square was sold at Christie's, London 29 April 2010, lot 268 (£481,250).

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