A Regency Ebonized and Gilt-Brass Mounted Center Table with Inset Micromosaic Top Depicting St. Peter's, Rome

May 27 2009, 4:52pm

Mosaics as an art form emerged in Rome in the 16th century, under the influence of the Pope, and were used primarily in a religious context as a type of "permanent painting," competing with more traditional forms of art. By the 18th century, the advancements in technology and craft, and the increase in patrons' wealth and demand allowed mosaic art to be be rapidly produced and commercialized. Private ateliers sprang up and began to produce mosaic work to supply the Grand Tourists of the 18th and 19th centuries with trophies, including tabletops like the present piece, to be taken back to England. The view of St. Peter's Basilica in the center of this top is strikingly similar to the one on a table in The Gilbert Collection, London. The present table's gilt-brass and ebonized base, which in true Regency fashion adapts classical elements like zoomorphic feet and a triform base, would have been specially constructed for displaying the top.