A Mosaic

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Mosaic went out of fashion in the Islamic world after the 8th century. Modern mosaics are made by professional artists, street artists, and as a popular craft. Many materials other than traditional stone and ceramic tesserae may be employed, including shells, glass and beads. The earliest known examples of mosaics made of different materials were found at a temple building in Abra, Mesopotamia , and are dated to the second half of 3rd millennium BC.

They consist of pieces of colored stones, shells and ivory. Excavations at Susa and Chogha Zanbil show evidence of the first glazed tiles, dating from around BC. Mythological subjects, or scenes of hunting or other pursuits of the wealthy, were popular as the centrepieces of a larger geometric design, with strongly emphasized borders. Greek figural mosaics could have been copied or adapted paintings, a far more prestigious artform, and the style was enthusiastically adopted by the Romans so that large floor mosaics enriched the floors of Hellenistic villas and Roman dwellings from Britain to Dura-Europos.

Most recorded names of Roman mosaic workers are Greek, suggesting they dominated high quality work across the empire; no doubt most ordinary craftsmen were slaves. Splendid mosaic floors are found in Roman villas across North Africa , in places such as Carthage , and can still be seen in the extensive collection in Bardo Museum in Tunis , Tunisia.

There were two main techniques in Greco-Roman mosaic: opus vermiculatum used tiny tesserae , typically cubes of 4 millimeters or less, and was produced in workshops in relatively small panels which were transported to the site glued to some temporary support. The tiny tesserae allowed very fine detail, and an approach to the illusionism of painting. Often small panels called emblemata were inserted into walls or as the highlights of larger floor-mosaics in coarser work. The normal technique was opus tessellatum , using larger tesserae, which was laid on site.

In Rome, Nero and his architects used mosaics to cover some surfaces of walls and ceilings in the Domus Aurea , built 64 AD, and wall mosaics are also found at Pompeii and neighbouring sites. However it seems that it was not until the Christian era that figural wall mosaics became a major form of artistic expression. The Roman church of Santa Costanza , which served as a mausoleum for one or more of the Imperial family, has both religious mosaic and decorative secular ceiling mosaics on a round vault, which probably represent the style of contemporary palace decoration.

The large villa rustica , which was probably owned by Emperor Maximian , was built largely in the early 4th century. The mosaics were covered and protected for years by a landslide that occurred in the 12th Century. The most important pieces are the Circus Scene , the 64m long Great Hunting Scene , the Little Hunt , the Labours of Hercules and the famous Bikini Girls , showing women undertaking a range of sporting activities in garments that resemble 20th Century bikinis.

The peristyle , the imperial apartments and the thermae were also decorated with ornamental and mythological mosaics. In the Zliten mosaic , a Roman mosaic famous for its many scenes from gladiatorial contests, hunting and everyday life, was discovered in the Libyan town of Zliten. The mosaics show a warrior in combat with a deer, four young men wrestling a wild bull to the ground, and a gladiator resting in a state of fatigue, staring at his slain opponent.

The mosaics decorated the walls of a cold plunge pool in a bath house within a Roman villa. The gladiator mosaic is noted by scholars as one of the finest examples of mosaic art ever seen — a "masterpiece comparable in quality with the Alexander Mosaic in Pompeii. A specific genre of Roman mosaic was called asaroton Greek for "unswept floor". It depicted in trompe l'oeil style the feast leftovers on the floors of wealthy houses. Cave canem mosaics ' Beware of the dog ' were a popular motif for the thresholds of Roman villas.

The Zliten mosaic showing gladiators , 2nd century AD. Roman mosaic found at Calleva Atrebatum Silchester. A mosaic showing Medusa and representational figures of the four seasons, from Palencia , Spain, made between and AD. Detail of a princess of Skyros from a larger scene of the Iliad depicting her and other princesses fawning over Achilles as Odysseus looks on , from the villa of La Olmeda , Spain, 4th-5th centuries AD.

With the building of Christian basilicas in the late 4th century, wall and ceiling mosaics were adopted for Christian uses. The earliest examples of Christian basilicas have not survived, but the mosaics of Santa Constanza and Santa Pudenziana , both from the 4th century, still exist. The winemaking putti in the ambulatory of Santa Constanza still follow the classical tradition in that they represent the feast of Bacchus , which symbolizes transformation or change, and are thus appropriate for a mausoleum, the original function of this building.

In another great Constantinian basilica, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem the original mosaic floor with typical Roman geometric motifs is partially preserved. The so-called Tomb of the Julii , near the crypt beneath St Peter's Basilica , is a 4th-century vaulted tomb with wall and ceiling mosaics that are given Christian interpretations. The Rotunda of Galerius in Thessaloniki , converted into a Christian church during the course of the 4th century, was embellished with very high artistic quality mosaics. Only fragments survive of the original decoration, especially a band depicting saints with hands raised in prayer, in front of complex architectural fantasies.

In the following century Ravenna , the capital of the Western Roman Empire , became the center of late Roman mosaic art see details in Ravenna section. Milan also served as the capital of the western empire in the 4th century. In the St Aquilinus Chapel of the Basilica of San Lorenzo , mosaics executed in the late 4th and early 5th centuries depict Christ with the Apostles and the Abduction of Elijah ; these mosaics are outstanding for their bright colors, naturalism and adherence to the classical canons of order and proportion.

The surviving apse mosaic of the Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio , which shows Christ enthroned between Saint Gervasius and Saint Protasius and angels before a golden background date back to the 5th and to the 8th century, although it was restored many times later. The baptistery of the basilica, which was demolished in the 15th century, had a vault covered with gold-leaf tesserae, large quantities of which were found when the site was excavated. In the small shrine of San Vittore in ciel d'oro, now a chapel of Sant'Ambrogio, every surface is covered with mosaics from the second half of the 5th century.

Saint Victor is depicted in the center of the golden dome, while figures of saints are shown on the walls before a blue background. The low spandrels give space for the symbols of the four Evangelists. Albingaunum was the main Roman port of Liguria. The octagonal baptistery of the town was decorated in the 5th century with high quality blue and white mosaics representing the Apostles.

The surviving remains are somewhat fragmented.


Massilia remained a thriving port and a Christian spiritual center in Southern Gaul where favourable societal and economic conditions ensured the survival of mosaic art in the 5th and 6th centuries. The large baptistery, once the grandest building of its kind in Western Europe, had a geometric floor mosaic which is only known from 19th century descriptions. Other parts of the episcopal complex were also decorated with mosaics as new finds, that were unearthed in the s, attest.

The funerary basilica of Saint Victor , built in a quarry outside the walls, was decorated with mosaics but only a small fragment with blue and green scrolls survived on the intrados of an arch the basilica was later buried under a medieval abbey. A mosaic pavement depicting humans, animals and plants from the original 4th-century cathedral of Aquileia has survived in the later medieval church.

This mosaic adopts pagan motifs such as the Nilotic scene, but behind the traditional naturalistic content is Christian symbolism such as the ichthys. In the 5th-century Ravenna , the capital of the Western Roman Empire , became the center of late Roman mosaic art. The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia was decorated with mosaics of high artistic quality in — The vaults of the small, cross-shaped structure are clad with mosaics on blue background. The central motif above the crossing is a golden cross in the middle of the starry sky.

She erected it in fulfillment of a vow that she made having escaped from a deadly storm in on the sea voyage from Constantinople to Ravenna. The mosaics depicted the storm, portraits of members of the western and eastern imperial family and the bishop of Ravenna, Peter Chrysologus. They are known only from Renaissance sources because almost all were destroyed in Ostrogoths kept alive the tradition in the 6th century, as the mosaics of the Arian Baptistry , Baptistry of Neon , Archbishop's Chapel , and the earlier phase mosaics in the Basilica of San Vitale and Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo testify.

The greatest development of Christian mosaics unfolded in the second half of the 6th century. The mosaics of the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe were made around The anti-Arian theme is obvious in the apse mosaic of San Michele in Affricisco , executed in — largely destroyed; the remains in Berlin. The last example of Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna was commissioned by bishop Reparatus between —79 in the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe. The mosaic panel in the apse showing the bishop with Emperor Constantine IV is obviously an imitation of the Justinian panel in San Vitale.

The mosaic pavement of the Vrina Plain basilica of Butrint , Albania appear to pre-date that of the Baptistery by almost a generation, dating to the last quarter of the 5th or the first years of the 6th century. The mosaic displays a variety of motifs including sea-creatures, birds, terrestrial beasts, fruits, flowers, trees and abstracts — designed to depict a terrestrial paradise of God's creation.

Superimposed on this scheme are two large tablets, tabulae ansatae, carrying inscriptions. A variety of fish, a crab, a lobster, shrimps, mushrooms, flowers, a stag and two cruciform designs surround the smaller of the two inscriptions, which reads: In fulfilment of the vow prayer of those whose names God knows. The abundant variety of natural life depicted in the Butrint mosaics celebrates the richness of God's creation; some elements also have specific connotations.

The kantharos vase and vine refer to the eucharist , the symbol of the sacrifice of Christ leading to salvation. Peacocks are symbols of paradise and resurrection; shown eating or drinking from the vase they indicate the route to eternal life. Deer or stags were commonly used as images of the faithful aspiring to Christ: "As a heart desireth the water brook, so my souls longs for thee, O God. Christian mosaic art also flourished in Rome, gradually declining as conditions became more difficult in the Early Middle Ages. The 27 surviving panels of the nave are the most important mosaic cycle in Rome of this period.

Two other important 5th century mosaics are lost but we know them from 17th-century drawings. In the apse mosaic of Sant'Agata dei Goti —, destroyed in Christ was seated on a globe with the twelve Apostles flanking him, six on either side. At Sant'Andrea in Catabarbara —, destroyed in Christ appeared in the center, flanked on either side by three Apostles.

Four streams flowed from the little mountain supporting Christ. The original 5th-century apse mosaic of the Santa Sabina was replaced by a very similar fresco by Taddeo Zuccari in The composition probably remained unchanged: Christ flanked by male and female saints, seated on a hill while lambs drinking from a stream at its feet. All three mosaics had a similar iconography.

The Chapel of Ss. Primo e Feliciano in Santo Stefano Rotondo has very interesting and rare mosaics from the 7th century. This chapel was built by Pope Theodore I as a family burial place. They were all destroyed later except for one example, the so-called Triclinio Leoniano of which a copy was made in the 18th century.

Susanna and Felicity on the other. It was plastered over during a renovation in Pope Paschal I — embellished the church of Santo Stefano del Cacco with an apsidal mosaic which depicted the pope with a model of the church destroyed in The fragment of an 8th-century mosaic, the Epiphany is one of the very rare remaining pieces of the medieval decoration of Old St.

Peter's Basilica , demolished in the late 16th century. The precious fragment is kept in the sacristy of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. It proves the high artistic quality of the destroyed St. Peter's mosaics. Mosaics were more central to Byzantine culture than to that of Western Europe.

Byzantine church interiors were generally covered with golden mosaics. Mosaic art flourished in the Byzantine Empire from the 6th to the 15th centuries. The majority of Byzantine mosaics were destroyed without trace during wars and conquests, but the surviving remains still form a fine collection. The great buildings of Emperor Justinian like the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople , the Nea Church in Jerusalem and the rebuilt Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem were certainly embellished with mosaics but none of these survived.

Important fragments survived from the mosaic floor of the Great Palace of Constantinople which was commissioned during Justinian 's reign. The figures, animals, plants all are entirely classical but they are scattered before a plain background. The portrait of a moustached man, probably a Gothic chieftain, is considered the most important surviving mosaic of the Justinianian age. The so-called small sekreton of the palace was built during Justin II 's reign around — Some fragments survive from the mosaics of this vaulted room. The vine scroll motifs are very similar to those in the Santa Constanza and they still closely follow the Classical tradition.

There are remains of floral decoration in the Church of the Acheiropoietos in Thessaloniki 5th—6th centuries. In the 6th century, Ravenna , the capital of Byzantine Italy, became the center of mosaic making. Istria also boasts some important examples from this era. The Euphrasian Basilica in Parentium was built in the middle of the 6th century and decorated with mosaics depicting the Theotokos flanked by angels and saints. These pieces were made during the 6th century by artists from Constantinople.

Their pure Byzantine style is different from the contemporary Ravennate mosaics. Very few early Byzantine mosaics survived the Iconoclastic destruction of the 8th century. Among the rare examples are the 6th-century Christ in majesty or Ezekiel's Vision mosaic in the apse of the Church of Hosios David in Thessaloniki that was hidden behind mortar during those dangerous times. Nine mosaic panels in the Hagios Demetrios Church , which were made between and , also escaped destruction. Unusually almost all represent Saint Demetrius of Thessaloniki , often with suppliants before him.

In the Iconoclastic era , figural mosaics were also condemned as idolatry. The Iconoclastic churches were embellished with plain gold mosaics with only one great cross in the apse like the Hagia Irene in Constantinople after The crosses were substituted with the image of the Theotokos in both churches after the victory of the Iconodules — and in 8th—9th centuries respectively, the Dormition church was totally destroyed in A similar Theotokos image flanked by two archangels were made for the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople in The dedication inscription says: "The images which the impostors had cast down here pious emperors have again set up.

The post-Iconoclastic era was the heyday of Byzantine art with the most beautiful mosaics executed. The mosaics of the Macedonian Renaissance — carefully mingled traditionalism with innovation. Constantinopolitan mosaics of this age followed the decoration scheme first used in Emperor Basil I 's Nea Ekklesia. Not only this prototype was later totally destroyed but each surviving composition is battered so it is necessary to move from church to church to reconstruct the system.

An interesting set of Macedonian-era mosaics make up the decoration of the Hosios Loukas Monastery. In the narthex there is the Crucifixion, the Pantokrator and the Anastasis above the doors, while in the church the Theotokos apse , Pentecost, scenes from Christ's life and ermit St Loukas all executed before The scenes are treated with a minimum of detail and the panels are dominated with the gold setting.

The exceptional mosaic decoration of the dome showing probably the nine orders of the angels was destroyed in but other panels survived Theotokos with raised hands, four evangelists with seraphim, scenes from Christ's life and an interesting Anastasis where King Salomon bears resemblance to Constantine Monomachos. In comparison with Osios Loukas Nea Moni mosaics contain more figures, detail, landscape and setting. Another great undertaking by Constantine Monomachos was the restoration of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem between and Nothing survived of the mosaics which covered the walls and the dome of the edifice but the Russian abbot Daniel, who visited Jerusalem in — left a description: "Lively mosaics of the holy prophets are under the ceiling, over the tribune.

The altar is surmounted by a mosaic image of Christ. In the main altar one can see the mosaic of the Exaltation of Adam. In the apse the Ascension of Christ. The Annunciation occupies the two pillars next to the altar. The Daphni Monastery houses the best preserved complex of mosaics from the early Comnenan period ca. The 9th- and 10th-century mosaics of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople are truly classical Byzantine artworks. The north and south tympana beneath the dome was decorated with figures of prophets, saints and patriarchs.

Above the principal door from the narthex we can see an Emperor kneeling before Christ late 9th or early 10th century. Above the door from the southwest vestibule to the narthex another mosaic shows the Theotokos with Justinian and Constantine.

Justinian I is offering the model of the church to Mary while Constantine is holding a model of the city in his hand. Both emperors are beardless — this is an example for conscious archaization as contemporary Byzantine rulers were bearded. The emperor gives a bulging money sack to Christ as a donation for the church. The composition resembles the great baptistries in Ravenna , with apostles standing between palms and Christ in the middle.

The scheme is somewhat unusual as the standard post-Iconoclastic formula for domes contained only the image of the Pantokrator. There are very few existing mosaics from the Komnenian period but this paucity must be due to accidents of survival and gives a misleading impression. The empress with her long braided hair and rosy cheeks is especially capturing.

It must be a lifelike portrayal because Eirene was really a redhead as her original Hungarian name, Piroska shows. The adjacent portrait of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos on a pier from is similarly personal. The imperial mausoleum of the Komnenos dynasty, the Pantokrator Monastery was certainly decorated with great mosaics but these were later destroyed. The lack of Komnenian mosaics outside the capital is even more apparent. There is only a "Communion of the Apostles" in the apse of the cathedral of Serres.

A striking technical innovation of the Komnenian period was the production of very precious, miniature mosaic icons.

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These products of extraordinary craftmanship were intended for private devotion. The Louvre Transfiguration is a very fine example from the late 12th century. The miniature mosaic of Christ in the Museo Nazionale at Florence illustrates the more gentle, humanistic conception of Christ which appeared in the 12th century. The sack of Constantinople in caused the decline of mosaic art for the next five decades. This huge mosaic panel with figures two and a half times lifesize is really overwhelming due to its grand scale and superlative craftsmanship.

The Pammakaristos Monastery was restored by Michael Glabas , an imperial official, in the late 13th century. Only the mosaic decoration of the small burial chapel parekklesion of Glabas survived. This domed chapel was built by his widow, Martha around — In the miniature dome the traditional Pantokrator can be seen with twelve prophets beneath. Unusually the apse is decorated with a Deesis , probably due to the funerary function of the chapel. The Church of the Holy Apostles in Thessaloniki was built in — Although some vandal systematically removed the gold tesserae of the background it can be seen that the Pantokrator and the prophets in the dome follow the traditional Byzantine pattern.

Many details are similar to the Pammakaristos mosaics so it is supposed that the same team of mosaicists worked in both buildings. Another building with a related mosaic decoration is the Theotokos Paregoritissa Church in Arta. The church was established by the Despot of Epirus in — In the dome is the traditional stern Pantokrator, with prophets and cherubim below. The greatest mosaic work of the Palaeologan renaissance in art is the decoration of the Chora Church in Constantinople.

Although the mosaics of the naos have not survived except three panels, the decoration of the exonarthex and the esonarthex constitute the most important full-scale mosaic cycle in Constantinople after the Hagia Sophia. They were executed around by the command of Theodore Metochites. The esonarthex has two fluted domes, specially created to provide the ideal setting for the mosaic images of the ancestors of Christ. The southern one is called the Dome of the Pantokrator while the northern one is the Dome of the Theotokos. The most important panel of the esonarthex depicts Theodore Metochites wearing a huge turban , offering the model of the church to Christ.

The walls of both narthexes are decorated with mosaic cycles from the life of the Virgin and the life of Christ. These panels show the influence of the Italian trecento on Byzantine art especially the more natural settings, landscapes, figures. The last Byzantine mosaic work was created for the Hagia Sophia, Constantinople in the middle of the 14th century.

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The great eastern arch of the cathedral collapsed in , bringing down the third of the main dome. By not only the big Pantokrator image was restored but new mosaics were set on the eastern arch depicting the Theotokos, the Baptist and Emperor John V Palaiologos discovered only in In addition to the large-scale monuments several miniature mosaic icons of outstanding quality was produced for the Palaiologos court and nobles. The loveliest examples from the 14th century are Annunciation in the Victoria and Albert Museum and a mosaic diptych in the Cathedral Treasury of Florence representing the Twelve Feasts of the Church.

In the troubled years of the 15th century the fatally weakened empire could not afford luxurious mosaics. Churches were decorated with wall-paintings in this era and after the Turkish conquest. The last great period of Roman mosaic art was the 12th—13th century when Rome developed its own distinctive artistic style, free from the strict rules of eastern tradition and with a more realistic portrayal of figures in the space.

The beautiful apse mosaic of Santa Maria in Trastevere depicts Christ and Mary sitting next to each other on the heavenly throne, the first example of this iconographic scheme. It is a work of Jacopo Torriti from The mosaics of Torriti and Jacopo da Camerino in the apse of San Giovanni in Laterano from —94 were thoroughly restored in The apse mosaic of San Crisogono is attributed to Pietro Cavallini , the greatest Roman painter of the 13th century. Six scenes from the life of Mary in Santa Maria in Trastevere were also executed by Cavallini in These mosaics are praised for their realistic portrayal and attempts at perspective.

There is an interesting mosaic medallion from above the gate of the church of San Tommaso in Formis showing Christ enthroned between a white and a black slave. The church belonged to the Order of the Trinitarians which was devoted to ransoming Christian slaves. The great Navicella mosaic — in the atrium of the Old St.

Peter's is attributed to Giotto di Bondone. The giant mosaic, commissioned by Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi , was originally situated on the eastern porch of the old basilica and occupied the whole wall above the entrance arcade facing the courtyard. It depicted St. Peter walking on the waters. This extraordinary work was mainly destroyed during the construction of the new St. Peter's in the 17th century.

Navicella means "little ship" referring to the large boat which dominated the scene, and whose sail, filled by the storm, loomed over the horizon. Such a natural representation of a seascape was known only from ancient works of art. The heyday of mosaic making in Sicily was the age of the independent Norman kingdom in the 12th century. The Norman kings adopted the Byzantine tradition of mosaic decoration to enhance the somewhat dubious legality of their rule.

Greek masters working in Sicily developed their own style, that shows the influence of Western European and Islamic artistic tendencies. The Cappella Palatina clearly shows evidence for blending the eastern and western styles.


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The dome —42 and the eastern end of the church — were decorated with typical Byzantine mosaics i. Pantokrator, angels, scenes from the life of Christ. Even the inscriptions are written in Greek. Peter's and St. Paul's Basilica in Rome Latin inscriptions, — The Martorana church decorated around looked originally even more Byzantine although important parts were later demolished. The dome mosaic is similar to that of the Cappella Palatina, with Christ enthroned in the middle and four bowed, elongated angels.

The Greek inscriptions, decorative patterns, and evangelists in the squinches are obviously executed by the same Greek masters who worked on the Cappella Palatina. The mosaic depicting Roger II of Sicily, dressed in Byzantine imperial robes and receiving the crown by Christ, was originally in the demolished narthex together with another panel, the Theotokos with Georgios of Antiochia, the founder of the church. On the walls are Latin and Greek saints, with Greek inscriptions. The Monreale mosaics constitute the largest decoration of this kind in Italy, covering 0,75 hectares with at least million glass and stone tesserae.

The iconography of the mosaics in the presbytery is similar to Cefalu while the pictures in the nave are almost the same as the narrative scenes in the Cappella Palatina. Another panel shows the king offering the model of the cathedral to the Theotokos. The Cathedral of Palermo , rebuilt by Archbishop Walter in the same time —85 , was also decorated with mosaics but none of these survived except the 12th-century image of Madonna del Tocco above the western portal. In the left apse of the same cathedral 14th-century mosaics survived, representing the Madonna and Child between Saints Agata and Lucy, the Archangels Gabriel and Michael and Queens Eleonora and Elisabetta.

Southern Italy was also part of the Norman kingdom but great mosaics did not survive in this area except the fine mosaic pavement of the Otranto Cathedral from , with mosaics tied into a tree of life, mostly still preserved. The scenes depict biblical characters, warrior kings, medieval beasts, allegories of the months and working activity. Only fragments survived from the original mosaic decoration of Amalfi 's Norman Cathedral. The mosaic ambos in the churches of Ravello prove that mosaic art was widespread in Southern Italy during the 11th—13th centuries. The palaces of the Norman kings were decorated with mosaics depicting animals and landscapes.

The secular mosaics are seemingly more Eastern in character than the great religious cycles and show a strong Persian influence. The most notable examples are the Sala di Ruggero in the Palazzo dei Normanni , Palermo and the Sala della Fontana in the Zisa summer palace, both from the 12th century. In parts of Italy , which were under eastern artistic influences, like Sicily and Venice , mosaic making never went out of fashion in the Middle Ages.

The whole interior of the St Mark's Basilica in Venice is clad with elaborate, golden mosaics. The oldest scenes were executed by Greek masters in the late 11th century but the majority of the mosaics are works of local artists from the 12th—13th centuries. The decoration of the church was finished only in the 16th century. One hundred and ten scenes of mosaics in the atrium of St Mark's were based directly on the miniatures of the Cotton Genesis , a Byzantine manuscript that was brought to Venice after the sack of Constantinople The mosaics were executed in the s.

Other important Venetian mosaics can be found in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Torcello from the 12th century, and in the Basilical of Santi Maria e Donato in Murano with a restored apse mosaic from the 12th century and a beautiful mosaic pavement The apse of the San Cipriano Church in Murano was decorated with an impressive golden mosaic from the early 13th century showing Christ enthroned with Mary, St John and the two patron saints, Cipriano and Cipriana.

When the church was demolished in the 19th century, the mosaic was bought by Frederick William IV of Prussia. It was reassembled in the Friedenskirche of Potsdam in the s. Trieste was also an important center of mosaic art. The mosaics in the apse of the Cathedral of San Giusto were laid by master craftsmen from Veneto in the 12th—13th centuries.

The monastery of Grottaferrata founded by Greek Basilian monks and consecrated by the Pope in was decorated with Italo-Byzantine mosaics, some of which survived in the narthex and the interior. The mosaics on the triumphal arch portray the Twelve Apostles sitting beside an empty throne, evoking Christ's ascent to Heaven. It is a Byzantine work of the 12th century.

There is a beautiful 11th-century Deesis above the main portal. The Abbot of Monte Cassino , Desiderius sent envoys to Constantinople some time after to hire expert Byzantine mosaicists for the decoration of the rebuilt abbey church. According to chronicler Leo of Ostia the Greek artists decorated the apse, the arch and the vestibule of the basilica. Their work was admired by contemporaries but was totally destroyed in later centuries except two fragments depicting greyhounds now in the Monte Cassino Museum.

In Florence a magnificiant mosaic of the Last Judgement decorates the dome of the Baptistery. The earliest mosaics, works of art of many unknown Venetian craftsmen including probably Cimabue , date from The covering of the ceiling was probably not completed until the 14th century.

John the Evangelist in the apse of the cathedral of Pisa was designed by Cimabue in It evokes the Monreale mosaics in style. It survived the great fire of which destroyed most of the mediveval interior decoration. Beyond the Alps the first important example of mosaic art was the decoration of the Palatine Chapel in Aachen , commissioned by Charlemagne.

It was completely destroyed in a fire in This unique work of art, rediscovered only in the 19th century, had no followers. Only scant remains prove that mosaics were still used in the Early Middle Ages. The Abbey of Saint-Martial in Limoges , originally an important place of pilgrimage, was totally demolished during the French Revolution except its crypt which was rediscovered in the s.

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A mosaic panel was unearthed which was dated to the 9th century. It somewhat incongruously uses cubes of gilded glass and deep green marble, probably taken from antique pavements. This could also be the case with the early 9th century mosaic found under the Basilica of Saint-Quentin in Picardy , where antique motifs are copied but using only simple colors.

The mosaics in the Cathedral of Saint-Jean at Lyon have been dated to the 11th century because they employ the same non-antique simple colors. More fragments were found on the site of Saint-Croix at Poitiers which might be from the 6th or 9th century. Later fresco replaced the more labor-intensive technique of mosaic in Western-Europe, although mosaics were sometimes used as decoration on medieval cathedrals.

It was probably a work of Venetian or Ravennese craftsmen, executed in the first decades of the 11th century. The mosaic was almost totally destroyed together with the basilica in the 17th century. The Golden Gate of the St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague got its name from the golden 14th-century mosaic of the Last Judgement above the portal.

It was executed by Venetian craftsmen. The Crusaders in the Holy Land also adopted mosaic decoration under local Byzantine influence. During their 12th-century reconstruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem they complemented the existing Byzantine mosaics with new ones. Almost nothing of them survived except the "Ascension of Christ" in the Latin Chapel now confusingly surrounded by many 20th-century mosaics. More substantial fragments were preserved from the 12th-century mosaic decoration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

The mosaics in the nave are arranged in five horizontal bands with the figures of the ancestors of Christ, Councils of the Church and angels. The program of redecoration of the church was completed in as a unique collaboration of the Byzantine emperor, the king of Jerusalem and the Latin Church. The panels depict real or fantastic animal, floral, solar and geometric representations. Some archeologists supposed that it was the floor of an Orthodox church, built some time between the 10th and 11th century.

Other experts claim that it was part of the later Catholic monastery on the site because it shows the signs of strong Italianate influence. The monastery was situated that time in the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary. Although mosaics went out of fashion and were substituted by frescoes, some of the great Renaissance artists also worked with the old technique.

Peter's Basilica. Instead of frescoes the cavernous Basilica was mainly decorated with mosaics. Among the explanations are:. The mosaics of St. Peter's often show lively Baroque compositions based on designs or canvases from like Ciro Ferri , Guido Reni , Domenichino , Carlo Maratta , and many others.

Raphael is represented by a mosaic replica of this last painting, the Transfiguration. Many different artists contributed to the 17th- and 18th-century mosaics in St. The eastern provinces of the Eastern Roman and later the Byzantine Empires inherited a strong artistic tradition from the Late Antiquity.

Similarly to Italy and Constantinople churches and important secular buildings in the region of Syria and Egypt were decorated with elaborate mosaic panels between the 5th and 8th centuries. The great majority of these works of art were later destroyed but archeological excavations unearthed many surviving examples. The single most important piece of Byzantine Christian mosaic art in the East is the Madaba Map , made between and as the floor of the church of Saint George at Madaba , Jordan.

It was rediscovered in The Madaba Map is the oldest surviving cartographic depiction of the Holy Land. It depicts an area from Lebanon in the north to the Nile Delta in the south, and from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Eastern Desert. The largest and most detailed element of the topographic depiction is Jerusalem , at the center of the map. The map is enriched with many naturalistic features, like animals, fishing boats, bridges and palm trees. One of the earliest examples of Byzantine mosaic art in the region can be found on Mount Nebo , an important place of pilgrimage in the Byzantine era where Moses died.

After you are done outlining the tiles: photocopy again, and set aside the original. Now its time to play with lines and color. This is where you go wild with options. Make a few copies and determine the highlights and shadows of your piece. I chose to be very specific about the inside-the-lines tile design.

You could be freeform here- and just go ahead with the tiling process if you like. This is the final drawing colored. Make an extra copy of this to be used as reference when making the mosaic, without endangering the original. Scan your final sketch at a decent resolution, then select the option to print the image. In the printer options window that pops up, select printing properties button. Select poster page options 2x2, 3x3, etc that best suit your needs.

Then click OK, and printer will print your image over the number of pages you selected. You will need to trim that off so the image is not broken up over the pages. There are so many ways to transfer the design. Here are a couple in addition to my choice of technique. On backerboard: 1. This will transfer image to backerboard from paper. Optional - trace over these lines with a pen to darken.

On wood: 2. Lay image face up over surface, then outline the tile shape with a rigid and pointed tool. You are engraving the lines into the wood. Then lift the image, and trace over the engraved lines with a pen to make the image visible. Using Fiberglass Mesh: You can have the illustration under a sheet of plastic film, with a layer of fiberglass mesh over that - the mesh being the layer which you glue the tiles onto, RIGHT side up. This is the direct technique. Using Indirecto: Heavier paper was used because of the mosaic technique I apply, called indirecto the reverse technique , where the pieces are applied face-down with a water soluable glue.

The artist never sees the work until it is completed and the back of the piece is glued to a substrate. Only then, when the paper is soaked off the image face, does the artist get to observe the work of art. Reply 10 years ago on Introduction. Hi Daniel! Mesh is for a few reasons: 1. Ease of transportation to install site.

Ability to wrap around a curved surface! In this case I could not do my install for a while, so I wanted a mesh instead of rigid backerboard. With the technique I used, I had to transfer it to a surface. That is why I used the mesh. For a direct technique mosaic you can go straight to a mesh, or onto another base material. NOW I recommend that if you are going to use fiberglass mesh to be the backing - use either Titebond flooring glue, or DAP plastics flexible adhesive.

About the pieces - I used a hammer and hardie, both with a sharp point, and made the shapes by chipping them between the hammer and hardie. These are handmade Italian tools, I got them for a grecoroman mosaic job. Reply 6 months ago. Question 11 months ago on Step Could a thin large sheet of polymer clay be the base for a mosaic, instead of wood or backer board? I'm thinking that it would be easy to transfer a design by using a stylus to trace the image, which would impress on the clay below it.

I'm considering doing a mosaic that would embed clay 'stones' and colored glass on top of this sheet, to form the design image. I'd probably fit the clay sheet into one of my baking sheets one no longer used for food. This way the sheet would have support going into the oven low temp , to bake. I'd love to make a sheep or dachshund mosaic. Any tips? Reply 9 years ago on Step 2. Here is what I would do. Look online or at the library for a coloring book that has a nice simple picture of a sheep, or daschound. Let a professional artist do the outline- you will focus on the mosaic part.

You can reduce the colors to a few between is a good amount. If you don't know how to reduce colors - there is a great free web based tool that I use- for putting more complex images into and getting a nice palette. Start with only an outline, that means that you are going to be interpreting the design, and adding your own creativity to the design.

Good Luck! Thanks so much!