The minute or micromosaic mosaic was born in Rome in the second half of the 18th century and the period of greatest production is the one that goes from the end of that century to the whole of the 19th century. In the second half of the eighteenth century, the great project to decorate the vaults of St. Peter’s in a lasting way and to translate paintings from the same basilica into mosaics.
The Fabbrica di San Pietro, or more correctly “Reverenda Fabrica Sancti Petri“, is the body created specifically for the management of all the works necessary for the construction and artistic realization of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The institution is still operating for the management of the complex.
It is precisely at this juncture that the Vatican Mosaic Studio created this new type of mosaic, made with the same techniques as traditional mosaic but with spun glass paste tiles, much smaller (about 0.1mm) and thinner than the old ones. weave.
The material was produced in Venice, but soon it began to be prepared in Rome as well. The glass used was spun by the mosaicist into thin rods, called display cases, from which the tiny tesserae were made. The support on which the micromosaic was composed could be made of metal, such as a copper sheet with raised edges, or a stone plate with a hollow or other type, in which the small tiles were assembled by fixing them with a special putty. The same works had small dimensions, executed with great precision and finished with equal care and could be inserted, for example, on artifacts such as tables with marble tops, snuffboxes, paperweights, etc., or even constituted pins and jewels, when they were applied in goldsmithing, mainly destined to become souvenirs for the tourists of the Grand Tour. Considered at the time of works of craftsmanship rather than real art, today they are finally recognized the right artistic value. Today there are also in the Vatican Museums (as well as in other very important museums in the world) two rooms dedicated to minute mosaics, and in St. Peter’s Square there are art galleries that sell both new and old mosaics.
The research and experiments conducted by artists such as:
Giacomo Raffaelli, Michelangelo Barberi, Cesare and Antonio Aguatti and by artisans and professionals working in the Vatican Mosaic Studio who contributed to the invention of the language of the minute mosaic.
To better understand and understand how a micromosaic is made, follow this link.