Micromosaic plaque, $13,000 (£10,300) at Millea Bros.

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It was offered as part of Millea Bros’ (25% buyer’s premium) sale in New Jersey on November 15-17.

Dated c.1820, the central scene, depicting the Phoenician princess’s abduction by Zeus, is one based on Michelangelo Maestri’s influential series of gouache drawings of the frescoes of Pompeii.

The painstaking and meticulous decoration is probably from the workshop of the virtuoso Antonio Aguatti. Considered the most talented mosaicist of his time, in 1810 his work was awarded a gold medal at the Capitoline exhibition of ‘Roman Works of Art and Industry’, held at the Campidoglio, and from 1832 until his death in 1846 he was professor of ‘mosaico in piccolo’ at the Vatican workshops.

Aguatti based his distinctive palette of glass tesserae - bold reds, blues and yellows set against a contrasting white ground - on the frescos uncovered at Herculaneum and Pompeii in the 18th century.