In one of the rooms on the upper floor of the museum of the Capitol at Rome are the celebrated Doves of Pliny, one of the finest and most perfectly preserved specimens of ancient mosaic. It represents four doves drinking, with a beautiful border surrounding the composition. The mosaic is formed of natural stones, so small that 160 pieces cover only a square inch. It is supposed to be the work of Sosus, and is described by Pliny as a proof of the perfection to which that art had arrived. He says:
“At Pergamos is a wonderful specimen of a dove drinking, and darkening the water with the shadow of her head; on the lip of the vessel are other doves pluming themselves.”
This exquisite specimen of art was found in Villa Adriana, in 1737, by Cardinal Furietti, from whom it was purchased by Clement XIII.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894