Most of these works in bronze were enriched with fine lines inlaid in silver, and in some cases with a kind of niello or enamel.
The Museo Civico is housed in the Palazzo Malaspina and contains many interesting national relics and a small picture gallery, with a large collection of offprints on paper from niello plates, including a very fine "Fountain of Love" by Antonio Pollainolo; another fine old palace, the Palazzo Mezzabarba, is now used as the Municipio.
NIELLO (the Italian form of Lat.
In some cases it is very difficult to distinguish niello from black enamel.; but the black substance differs from true enamel in being metallic, not vitreous.
Our knowledge of the process and materials employed in niello-work is derived mainly from four writers,- Eraclius the Roman (a writer probably of the nth century), Theophilus the monk, who wrote in the 12th or 13th century,' and, in the 16th century, Benvenuto Cellini 2 and Giorgio Vasari.3 The design was cut with a sharp graving tool on the smooth surface of the metal, which was usually silver, but occasionally gold or even bronze.
When the powder had become thoroughly liquid, so as to fill all the lines, the plate was allowed to cool, and the whole surface was scraped, so as to remove the superfluous niello, leaving only what had sunk into and filled up the engraved pattern.
As the slightest scratch upon the metal received the niello, and became a distinct black line, ornament of the most minute and refined description could easily be produced.
The earliest specimens of niello belong to the Roman period.
The dark tint of the bronze rather prevents the niello from showing out distinctly.
It is a silver casket or lady's toilet box, in which were found an ampulla and other small objects, enriched with niello-work.5 From Roman times till the end of the 16th century the art of working in niello seems to have been constantly practised in some part at least of Europe, while in Russia and India it has survived to the present day.
From the 6th to the 12th century a large number of massive and splendid works in the precious metals were produced at Byzantium or under Byzantine influence, many of which were largely decorated with niello; the silver dome of the baldacchino over the high altar of S.
Niello is frequently mentioned in the inventories of the treasures belonging to the great basilicas of Rome and Byzantium.
Mark's, Venice, 10th century, owes much of its refined beauty to niello patterns in the borders.
1023); a fine silver paten, decorated with figures in niello, attributed to his hand, still exists among the many rich treasures in the church of Hanover Palace.
Among the early Teutonic and Celtic races, especially from the 8th to the 11th centuries, both in Britain and other countries, niello was ' Div.
The British Museum possesses a fine fibula of silver decorated with a simple pattern in niello and thin plates of repousse gold.
The metal-workers of Ireland, whose skill was quite unrivalled, practised largely the art of niello from the Toth to the 12th century, and posGold and Niello Ring 'sibly even earlier.
Fine croziers, shrines, fibulae, and other objects of Irish workmanship, most skilfully enriched with elaborate niello-work, exist in considerable numbers.
From the 13th to the 16th century but little niello-work appears to have been produced in England.
It is, however, in Italy that the art of niello-work was brought to greatest perfection.
During the 15th century, especially at Florence, the art of niello-work was practised by almost all the great artist-goldsmiths of that period.
Vasari's account of this invention, given in his lives of Pollaiuolo and Maso Finiguerra, is very interesting, but he is wrong in asserting that Maso was the first worker in niello who took proofs or impressions of his plates.
It is a pax with a very rich and delicate niello picture of the coronation of the Virgin; the composition is very full, and the work almost microscopic in minuteness; it was made in 1452.