This tea cup and saucer are both hand painted to resemble micromosaic, an ancient form of mosaic in which tesserae, minuscule pieces of glass or enamel, are arranged to create intricate figurative scenes. The motif of the four doves sitting atop a bronze vessel, which is depicted in the centre of the saucer, was a popular micromosaic scene. Known as the Capitoline Doves or Doves of Pliny, the design was inspired by a Roman floor mosaic by the artist Sosus of Pergamon, discovered in 1737 in the ancient Roman Villa of Hadrian, Tivoli. Here the image is intricately painted upon a white ground covered with fine mosaic lines and is joined by triangular medallions enclosing colourful butterflies. The cup is decorated similarly with a central image depicting grapes and a wine urn.