Roman Bronze Disc Brooch With Millefiori Enamel

$435.38

A finely cast, Roman, bronze disc brooch decorated with white and blue millefiori enamel. The polychrome tesserae, each featuring squares of blue and white enamel, are arranged in rows creating a miniature mosaic. There is a hinge on the reverse, which would have held the original pin, and a triangular catch plate.

Date: Circa 2nd-3rd century AD
Provenance: From an important London collection, acquired in the 1970s.
Condition: Fine condition. Some of the tesserae are missing or damaged. The pin is now missing and there are marks near the hinge. The bronze is patinated.

In stock

Fibulae or brooches were originally used in Ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire for fastening garments, such as cloaks or togae. The fibula designs developed into a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety-pin principle. The Roman conquests resulted in a spread of Roman culture and therefore the use of the fibula, which became the basis for more complicated and highly decorated brooches, modelled in bronze, silver and gold and further enriched with precious and semi-precious gemstones. Fibulae are the most common artefact-type in burials and settlements throughout much of continental Europe. By the Middle Ages, the Roman safety pin type of fibula had fallen into disuse. Disc brooches began initially as flat, circular plate brooches, like this fine example. Their design and decoration became more complex as their popularity increased.

Enamelling was a popular decorative technique in the ancient Roman Empire during the first to third century AD. It was used to embellish small, bronze, ornamental objects such as brooches, rings, and studs, with brooches being the most popular item to feature the material. Like the plate brooches themselves, the use of enamelling also evolved. The colours and even the patterns used, can often allocate a more precise date. For example, whilst red was the primary colour first used in enamelling, the combination of  blue and white was often seen in the second century. Millefiori was also a technique established on the continent, and fibula found in Britain with the pattern would suggest they were imports rather than made here.

Weight 11.43 g
Dimensions L 3.2 x W 1.1 cm
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Metal

Region

Reference: For a similar item, Bonhams, London, 28 October 2009, lot 339

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