Collectables specialist Fred Wyrley-Birch at Anderson & Garland was seriously impressed by this micromosaic plaque, offered for sale at Westerhope, near Newcastle in their latest fine art sale. And so were buyers.
The subject, the Pantheon in Rome, is
typical for Grand Tour material of this early 19th century date but
it carries the signature of Joachim Barberi, one of the very best
mosaicists working in Italy at the time. Some of his mosaics
contain more than 5000 pieces per square inch.
Measuring 2¾ x 1¾in (7 x 5cm), the
original silk-lined case is set with the maker's card Joachim
Barber, Professeur de Mosaique, Place d'Espagne Ho. 97, 98, 99, et
Rue de la Croix No. 1, Rome, while the back of the gilt frame
is inscribed To Mrs Main of ***, from J.H. Anderson,
"The quality and intricacy of
the plaque was astounding," said Mr Wyrley-Birch. "To the naked eye
it looked like a miniature painting and even with a jeweller's
loupe it was hard to make out the individual tiles. It's the best I
Offered at the March 26 sale on behalf
of a resident of Corbridge, Northumberland with an estimate of
£800-1200, it sold to an Italian telephone bidder for
Remarkably, it is the second Joachim
Barberi plaque to be offered in recent months. Lindsay Burns Perth
sold another depicting a gun dog and ducks on December 4 for
The buyer's premium at
Anderson & Garland was 19.5%.