Home >> Encyclopedia-of-architecture-1852 >> Onument Of Lysicrates to Or Urbino 1trbin >> or Mosaic

or Mosaic

colours, pavements, usually, mosaics, decoration, art and glass

MOSAIC, or MosAte-WortK, (from mosaiertm, a corrup tion of musnieum, as that. is of mnsivam, as it was called among the IZomans: but Sealiger derives it from the Greek, usaa, and imagines the name was given to this sort of work, as being very imagines and ingenious; and Nebricensis is of ()pinion it was so called, because ex illis pieturis ornabanter muses.) an assemblage of little pieces of glass, marble, shells, precious stones, woods, or the like, of various colours, cut square, and cemented on a ground of stucco, &e., imitating the natural colours and gradations of painting. in this sense, mosaic work includes marquetry, or inlaid work, veneering, &c. But, in its more proper and restrained sense, mosaic only takes in works of stone, metals, and glass ; those of wood being distinguished by the name of marquetry or inlaying. (See those words.) Others distinguish differently between mosaic and ma•que try. hi that properly called mosaic, they say the several stones are all of the same colour; and the changes and dimi nutions of colours and shades are made by applying different stones, one on another, hut all of the same colour. Marque try, On the contrary, consists of stories of different colours ; and by these the several colours, shades, gradations, &c., arc expi essed.

Mosaic seems to have taken its origin from : the fine effect and use of pavements composed of pieces of marble of different eolonrs,—s() well joined together, as that, when dried, they might be polished, and the whole make a very beautiful and solid body, which, continually trodden upon, and washed with water, was not at all damaged,—gave the painter the hint, who soon carried the art to a much greater perfection, so as to represent foliages, masques, and other grotesque pieces, of various colours, on a ground of black or white marble. But nature not producing variety of colours enough for them in marbles, to all kinds of objects, they thought of counterfeiting them with glass and metals coloured.

This kind of work is supposed to have originated in the East, to have been brought from Phenieia to Greece, and thence to Rome, where it was used more especially for pave ments. These pavements consisted for the most part of patterns forming borders round a central figure or device, and sometimes a group or subject ; others consisted solely of patterns worked out in two or three colours, usually black, white, and red. Of all places, however, the artists of

Byzantium carried this art into most extensive praetice.cover ing both walls, pavements, and ceilings with such decoration ; mosaics became indeed it Very common method of enrich ment in Christian churches, Lomb in Asia and Italy. They form the most characteristic decoration of the Basilica. As a style of art, as well as it manufacture, mnsire work may be said to have arisen wholly in the era of Christianity. The material of which the tnedizeyal mosaic's are formed being chiefly glass, distingni-hes them completely from the tessel lated pavements of the Romans. Perhaps the nearest approach to the manufacture, is the rude inlaid work of the eolumns and fountains in some of the Pompeii garden:: at all evelits. their application is entirely peculiar to Christi anity. The apex of the apse was usually reserved fiI• this species of decoration, which still constitutes the peculiar charm of the ancient Italian churches. The solemn 5rigantie fwures and the mysterious imagery of the mosaics. dimly seen in the darkness of the san•tnary, produce an effect denied to more elaborate specimens of art. In one most important respect they are infinitely preferable to paintings, because. both from their position and their character, they never became the objects of adoration. Usually speaking, the main &a•e is the Saviour in the act of judging the world ; on either side, St. Peter and St. Paul : other saints are added, usually with reference to the peculiar locality. Portraits of popes or emperors connect the sacred imagery with the annals of the age. Although not governed by any definite system. yet there is a uniform course in the adaptation of the ornaments.

.Mosaie work is also common in Arabian edifices, so much so indeed as to become a feature of the Ie. Their mosaics were principally of poreelain, and were used in the decoration of the lower part of the \•ails, and also for pavements. See