Attributed to Castellani - An Italian Etruscan revival brooch
of 'fibula' form, set with a carved carnelian scarab in a rope twist and ball decorated frame, further wire work detail to the bar, terminal with curling rams head motif, apparently unmarked
Overall length: 15.9mm
Estimate £ 3,000-5,000 + fees

The Castellani workshop used at least twelve different types of filigree in their work and each type could be scaled up or down, creating an enviable variety of decorative options. The Castellani family records show they were active buyers of ancient stones from excavations, as well as stones being carved by Roman workshops at the time. Roman lapidarists were well-known and produced great works in their own right. Their productions of cameos and intaglios were threatened by the popularity of shell cameos in the beginning of the 19th century. The Castellani not only revived the Etruscan arts, but also supported their contemporaries. The Castellani began acquiring scarabs, cameos and intaglios in around 1829. The most rapid accession of scarabs began in the mid-1840s and lasted until around 1860 when large collections became scarce. Lucia Pirizio Biroli Stefanelli writes, "for each of the celebrated parures, which constituted the pride of the Castellani production, a minimum of thirty scarabs was needed (twenty to twenty-five for the necklace, up to fifteen for a bracelet and others for rings, earrings and pins)"(Weber, S. and Walker, S. (Eds.), Castellani, New York, 2004). Fibula brooches such as the present lot were part of these parures.