Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler

Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler
Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler
Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler
Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler
casina di raffaello.jpg
casino raffaello.jpg
casino in villa borghese.jpg
casino in villa borghese2.jpg
casin de raphael.jpg
9-View-of-the-Casina-di-Raffaello-in-Villa-Borghese.jpeg
Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler
Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler
Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler
Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler
casina di raffaello.jpg
casino raffaello.jpg
casino in villa borghese.jpg
casino in villa borghese2.jpg
casin de raphael.jpg
9-View-of-the-Casina-di-Raffaello-in-Villa-Borghese.jpeg
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Porphyry snuff box with micromosaic by Georgi Wekler

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A red porphyry snuff box with silver gilt mount bearing the hallmark with the Papal seal of the city of Rome; on the cover is mounted a very rare and fine micromosaic by the russian artist Georgi Wekler (1800-1861), depicting the so called Casina di Raffaello once existing in the Villa Borghese in Rome.

The object can be dated between 1834 and 1837, the only period Wekler visited Rome.

Size of snuff box cm 10 x 8.3 x 2.6 approx,  the micro mosaic cm 7.1 x 5.3 ca.

The building depicted in the mosaic, the Casina of Raphael that stood in the Villa Doria owned by Cardinal Joseph Doria Pamphili, was originally a garden in perfect English style built between 1785 and 1790 by Francesco Bettini. The area, however, was completely devastated by the French bombing of 1849 (during the Second Roman Republic uprising). On that occasion, it was also destroyed the main building, the Casina of Raphael, so named after the presence of frescoes in theRaphael's style, luckily detached in 1836 and now preserved at the Borghese Museum. Since then, the area was used as a riding track and every historical structure was destroyed by the construction of the underground parking lot in the 1970's.

Georgi Wekler (Riga 1800 - St. Petersburg 1861). Is the most celebrated Russian master of micromosaics. He was born in 1800 in Riga of poor parents, moving in 1801, to St. Petersburg, where is father, a teacher, died a few years later. Georgi was sent to live with a family friend, the commandant of the fortress in Neishlot, Finland. This man trained him in drawing and mathematics in preparation for military career, but Wekler preferred art and was finally allowed to go to Moscow in 1814, whre he apprenticed with a glass painter, learning how to decorate the glass eggs traditionally given as Easter gifts. One day , the Roman mosaicist Moglia (probably Domenico, 1780-1862) saw the eggs in the shop window, asked to meet the artist, and ultimately invited Wekler to live at his studio and learn the art of mosaics. After studying and practising diligently for two years, the talented Wekler became an accomplished mosaicist. He declined an invitation to accompany Moglia back to Rome in 1819, staying on in Moscow and supporting himself with his growing mosaic work and designs for ceramics. By 1821, having apparently accumulatedarepertoire of works, Wekler returned to St. Petersburg where his mosaic, Lost son of Santa Rosa was purchased by the Empress, Elizabeth Feodorovna. Tsar Alexander I subsequently commissioned two more works from him, landscapes of the Imperial estates of Kamenoi Ostrow and Jelagen. His works was so highly regarded that in 1822 he was appointed Master of Mosaics at the Royal Academy of Art in St. Petersburg. By 1824 he had produced four more landscapes of royal estates near St. Petersburg for the royal family. In 1825, Wekler was asked by Alexander to make a mosaic copy of a painting in the Winter Palace, Interior of the Capucin Church, by Francois Marius Granet. While Wekler was engaged on this project, Alexander died. However, the new Tsar Nicholas I, was so pleased with the completed mosaic that he gave Wekler a large bonus and a diamond ring. Nicholas next commissioned from Wekler a mosaic of animals after a painting in the Royal collection by Paulus Potter and anotehr afetr Claude Lorraine's Flight to Egypt. This assignment took five years to complete. During this period, in 1829, Wekler is cited as aving also restored a mosaic copy of Raphael's Madonna of the Chair, probably the 18th century version by the mosaicist G. Malusardi. Wekler went to Rome in 1834 with a royal subsidy to launch a project so ambitious that the Russian Ambassador was sceptical as to wheter it could be realised. This was to execute a full scale mosaic copy (405x278 cm; 13 1/4 x 9 ft) of Raphael's painting, the Transfiguration. On its completion in 1837, the 150 odd mosaicists in Rome were struck with awe; Pope Gregory awarded Wekler a gold medal and offered to purchase the mosaic for 12.000 scudi ( about $ 290000 in modern currency). Wekler declined the Pope's offer and took the Transfiguration back to St. Petersburg, where the Tsar paid a total of 25000 roubles for it. He was also given the title of Court Mosaic Master at 3000 roubles per year. From 1838, Wekler taught classes at the Academy, and in 1842 became Director of Mosaics at St. Isaac's Cathedral, working on a project to complete certain churche mosaics. Some smaller mosaics by Wekler include busts of Plauto and Aristotele, Russian Peasants, animals, figures, a Troika, Jelagen Palace, Gatchina Palace, St. Peter's Basilica, Isaac's Place, the Marmor Church, the Cathedral of St. Basil and the Royal Pavillon at Brighton. (Gabriel, Jeanette Hanisee, et al. Micromosaics. London: Philip Wilson in association with The Gilbert Collection , 2000.

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