Roman Bronze Enamelled Millefiori Brooch

$366.97

A Roman, bronze, plate brooch composed of a round disc flanked by two symmetrical wings. The central disc is intricately decorated with polychromatic, millefiori enamel. The pattern consists of a checkerboard design, composed of alternating red and blue enamel squares. The red squares feature a red bordered design with a four-square, blue cross to the centre, filled with white enamel. The blue squares consist of a thick blue enamel frame, filled with alternating minute blue and white enamel squares. Some traces of millefiori decoration can still be glimpsed on the wings, although the majority has been lost. From what remains, we can see that the wings would have been filled mostly with white enamel as a background colour, interspersed with blue and red floral elements. Remnants of these floral patterns can still be seen. To the underside of the brooch are two stumps, representing what remains of the hinge and catch plate.

Date: Circa 2nd - 3rd Century BC
Condition: Fine condition. Degradation of enamel decoration on the disc and loss of enamel on side wing panels. Pin is partially missing leaving only a small part of the hinge and catch plate. Patination and encrustation to the surface.

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This particular brooch is known as a plate brooch. With the Roman conquest heralding in new techniques, the humble fibula evolved and the catch and pin variety was created across the whole of the Empire. Initially, these were simple in design, uncoloured and plain. With time, decorative styles progressed and new shapes included anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and skeuomorphic designs. The use of enamel led to further enhancement, with brooches being the most popular item to feature the material. Upon this brooch we can see various enamelling techniques, including the aptly named ‘millefiori’, or ‘thousand flowers’. 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 red and blue 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 8.49 g
Dimensions L 3.9 x W 2.2 x H 0.7 cm
Culture

Metal

Region

Reference: For a similar disc pattern, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, item 66.16

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