Castellani brooch

A Castellani revival brooch – £62,000 at Dore & Rees.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Estimated at £20,000-30,000, it sold at £62,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

The micromosaic of a Bacchus theatre mask reproduces part of a 3rd century mosaic which decorated the Thermae Decianae built on the Aventine Hill by the Emperor Decius.

The panel was probably supplied by the mosaicist Luigi Podio (1826-88) with the ‘Etruscan’ gold mount provided by Castellani.

In the catalogue for the 2004 exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, Castellani and Italian Archaeological Jewelry (2004), Judy Rudoe writes: “Judging from the company’s daybooks and stock inventories, production of masks was in full swing in the years 1852 and 1853. A ‘fibula maschera scenica’ (brooch with theatrical mask) was sold to a Mr Miles in December 1852 for 50 scudi, while the stock inventory for that year includes several mosaic masks.”

Remarkably, this brooch was being sold in Somerset by descendants of the Miles family.

Another micromosaic brooch with theatrical mask formed part of the sale of Alfredo Castellani’s estate which took place on December 15, 1930. This is also referenced and illustrated in the Bard Graduate Center catalogue.

Lee Young of Dore & Rees and Susan Rumfitt of dealership Susan Rumfitt Fine Jewellery in Harrogate have formed a ‘strategic partnership’ to hold specialist jewellery sales. Last week’s sale was the first.