Luigi A. Gallandt
19th Century | Italian
Signed "Gallant" (lower right)
Micromosaic with gilt wooden frame
This highly important mid-19th century Roman micromosaic was crafted by the Italian artisan Luigi Gallant. Monumental micromosaic panels of this giant scale are rare and extraordinarily valuable, and they were nearly always made either by special private commission or as papal gifts. Gallandt’s micromosaics are particularly prized for their high attention to detail and subtle handling of color. This example — a stunning veduta of the Colosseum — was once part of the famed Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum (London).
A visit to the Colosseum was central to any Grand Tour itinerary in Rome, and souvenir micromosaics of the Roman ruin were incredibly popular with 19th-century Grand Tourists. This example, however, is in a class of its own, far surpassing the concept of the Grand Tour souvenir. Absolutely monumental in size and measuring nearly 6 feet wide, it would have been a special commission for a client of particular wealth and importance. Few micromosaics of the period achieve both the size and the extraordinary artistry of the present example, which can be counted among the great masterpieces of 19th-century Roman art.
It is this awe-inspiring view that visitors would have first glimpsed of the monument when approaching from the Roman Forum. The Titus fountain is depicted in front of the towering ruin, while the arch of Constantine is depicted to the right. Though two-thirds of the Colosseum has been lost to the ravages of time, Gallant successfully captures both unspoiled and ruinous elements of the façade, evoking both the grandeur and the history of this well-known site. Contemporary figures in 19th-century dress occupy the foreground, further emphasizing the monumentality of the monument.
The attention to detail and subtly of color and pattern that is achieved in the scene is unique to Gallant. The artisan was particularly renowned for his ability to impart a realism and veracity in his works that far surpassed any other maker of his generation. Gallant's private micromosaic workshop operated outside of the constraints of the Studio del Mosaico Vaticano. Situated in the center of the city near the Piazza di Spagna where most tourists stayed, Gallant was well established and highly successful, eventually earning the titled Cavaliere, the Italian equivalent of knighthood. His popularity allowed him to earn special commissions of large-scale micromosaics such as the present piece, the likes of which are rarely found on the market.
Panel: 31 1/8” high x 69 1/2” wide
Frame: 38 1/4” high x 76 1/2” wide
Gilbert Collection, Permanent Display, Somerset House, London, 2000-2007
Micromosaics: The Gilbert Collection, London, 2000, by J. H. Gabriel, cat. no. 58, p. 117.
Collection of Mrs. Loyce Mayfield, Mountain Crest, Alabama
Sotheby-Parke-Bernet New York, The Contents of Mountain Crest, 10-11 June 1977, lot 236
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection, London
M.S. Rau, New Orleans, 2020