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Archaeological Revival Fibula Brooch

Composed of 18K gold, this antique archaeological revival brooch in the form of a fibula dates from circa 1870. Elaborately ornamented with applied bead and wirework, and sculpted florets and leaf motifs, the Etruscan sanguisuga form fibula joins a terminal surmounted by a winged sphinx with corkscrew fish tail. Imaginatively interpreted, created with a wealth of delightful detail in bloomed and engraved gold, this highly unusual brooch exerts both charm and fascination.

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  • Curator's Notes

Item #: BO-20926
Circa: 1870-1880
Dimensions: 1.00" height; 2.25" width
Materials: 18K Gold
Literature: This brooch is modeled on an Etruscan fibula held in the collection of the Louvre, pictured in Eugène Fontenay, Les Bijoux Anciens et Modernes, p. 332. Similar brooch pictured in Understanding Jewellery, by David Bennett and Daniela Mascetti p. 169

Fibulae are among the earliest forms of jewelry, serving as cloak fasteners for both men and women. Bronze Age fibulae are typically formed as spirals of bronze wire. In the Etruscan world, fibulae were formed of bronze, amber or gold, typically in this distinctive "sanguisuga" or leech form, so-called by art historians. When formed of gold, these fibulae were often decorated with minute granulation set in refined patterns. The excavation of these masterworks in gold, whose technology baffled 19th century jewelers, inspired the archaeological revival movement and the rediscovery of these lost techniques.