Stylistically, this finely executed micromosaic 'picture' depicting a dog and cat fighting may well be the work of the celebrated mosaicist Filippo Puglieschi. By the beginning of the 19th century, the latter's studio was already established as one of the most sought-after and prolific in Rome, and an encyclopaedic record of the art and antiquities of the city written between 1806-19 by Giuseppe Antonio Guattani describes it as being busy with commissions from the North, including "450 pieces of mosaic jewellery, boxes and pictures". The subject here is attributed to Bohemian-born animal and portrait painter Wenceslaus Peter (d. 1829), who was active in Rome from 1774 until his death. Widely patronised by Roman aristocracy, Peter was commissioned by Prince Marcantonio Borghese to decorate the entrance hall of Villa Borghese with a series of 162 animal paintings. Peter's fame was such that within his own lifetime his paintings were copied into a variety of media, most notably micromosaics. This subject, in addition to other paintings of the same taste distributed by Peter, was frequently repeated by mosaicists in the early 19th century. But above all it was Puglieschi who drew upon the artist as a principal iconographic source, and in 1806 Guattani describes a panel depicting a fierce battle between a dog and cat in Filippo Puglieschi's mosaic workshop as being "so well conceived and represented by the incomparable Peters, everyone is as delighted to see it, most especially in mosaic, as they are to see the Capitoline Doves."
The same subject has appeared in micromosaic occasionally at auction, most notably in one of a pair of considerably smaller panels attributed to Puglieschi, sold from the Collection of the Late Gianni Versace, Sotheby's New York, 5-7 April 2001, lot 16 ($104,250). The image also appears in the lids of a bonbonnière and a snuffbox in the Gilbert Collection, London (see Hanisee Gabriel, op. cit., p. 70, cat. 18 and p. 180, cat. 111. Never, however, has it appeared on such a large scale as in this superlative example.