Pendant with bust of the Christ Pantokrator



The image on this pendant is a miniature copy of a large mosaic depicting the head of Christ Pantokrator (Ruler of All) in the 12th-century apse of San Clemente in Rome.

The Castellani were the first to introduce Early Christian and Byzantine motifs in micromosaic jewellery. Until then, Roman art had been the main source of inspiration.

Pendant with bust of the Christ Pantokrator

 

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Pendant with bust of the Christ Pantokrator

Rome, after 1855
Made by Castellani
Gold, enamel and micromosaic of coloured glass
Lent by the American Friends of the V&A through the generosity of Judith H. Siegel
V&A: Loan:AmericanFriends.440-2007

Italian regional jewellery

 



One of the chief inspirations behind the Castellani family’s distinctive jewellery was a fierce sense of national pride.

Alessandro amassed an extensive collection of traditional peasant jewellery from all round the country to record and conserve its artistic heritage. Much of this collection was acquired by the V&A in 1868 and can be seen on the mezzanine floor of this gallery.

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Italian regional jewellery

From Italian Jewellery as Worn by the Peasants of Italy,
collected by Signor Castellani, and Purchased from the
Paris Universal Exhibition for the South Kensington
Museum (London, 1868)
Plate 2 Parma and Modena, Plate 4 Florence and Lower Etruria

National Art Library, V&A, 38041 800 527 707

 

The Castellani family were proprietors of one of the 19th century’s most celebrated jewellery firms. From their shop in Rome, Fortunato Pio Castellani and his sons Alessandro and Augusto sold superb jewels in the archaeological and revivalist styles.

In 1860 Alessandro was exiled from Rome for his nationalist views. He promoted the firm abroad and became a dealer in antiquities and other works of art.

Portrait of Alessandro Castellani

 

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Portrait of Alessandro Castellani

From sale catalogue Catalogue des Objets d’Art Antiques, du Moyen-âge et de la Renaissance dépendant de la Succession Castellani (Rome, 1884)

National Art Library, V&A, L.994-1884
Micromosaic Brooch

 

This brooch is a fine example of the micromosaic technique. Rods of coloured glass were cut into minute fragments, or tesserae, before being painstakingly arranged into a design.

The technique developed in Rome in the late 18th century but declined in popularity during the 1840s. In the mid 19th century it was revived by the Castellani family.

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Micromosaic Brooch

Rome, about 1815
Gilded silver and micromosaic of coloured glass
Given by Dame Joan Evans
Case 18. V&A: M.35-1962

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

 

The Castellani pendant was inspired by this mosaic, which forms part of the golden mosaic that covers the ceiling and walls of the apse of San Clemente.

San Clemente is one of Rome’s oldest places of worship. Dedicated to Pope St Clement, who died in 101 AD, the church dates back to the 4th century but was rebuilt in the 12th century.

Christ

 

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Christ Pantokrator

In the apse of San Clemente, Rome, 1200-1300
Mosaic

Photograph from a private collection