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Birds have long been a source of artistic inspiration.

? Italian

Snuff box circa

RCIN 3779

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This tiny box, just 5 cm wide, is decorated with a micromosaic depicting a dove perched on a branch. Miniscule tesserae (mosaic tiles), some square and others oblong, have been painstakingly laid to produce this composition. The smallest pieces, in a variety of shades, make up the bird’s feathers, their placement suggesting the direction of the plumage as well as the areas of shadow under the wing. A single oblong tessera has been used to indicate each of the dove’s feet. The figurative and the decorative harmonise as the geometric border echoes the small fruits or flowers on the branches surrounding the bird.