Look at the expression on this horse’s face! A mosaic is a picture or decorative pattern made by setting small fragments of marble, Glass or ceramic materials into cement or plaster. These fragments are known as tesserae and are Usually irregular in shape. Though usually applied to a smooth wall or floor, their uneven surfaces create the reflective glitter so characteristic of Byzantine mosaics. The earliest known mosaic is Sumerian, with terracotta tesserae; the Egyptians, Monoans, Greeks and Romans used glass. Originally mosaic was mostly used on floors and pavements, but mural mosaics, both internal and external, became more common with the rise of Christianity, and became the principal feature of Byzantine art.
Earliest mosaics were made 4-5000 years ago in Sumeria. The Greeks were creating, or as they would say, ‘painting’ mosaics before the Romans - then with the spread of the Roman Empire, mosaics were created in many more places - like Africa, England, Spain, France… Tessare stone, tile ceramic, porcelain, even gold and silver…glass, terra-cotta, marble Mosaic: column from Sumeria. Glass, porcelain, gold! Mosaics are made of materials that are not easily worn out - and many were created as a floor, which were often covered by ruins, protected for centuries and revealed during excavations. Mosaics tell stories much like a painting - thanks to mosaics we know what certain people looked like, what they did during the day, how they hunted, played, fought in wars, interacted with each other. We can also see what kind of wildlife and domesticated animals there were in that day.
Roman Empire at it’s height - spread mosaic art all over the region -
Roman Empire - timeline . . . . .
Roman Empire - timeline . . . . .
Roman Fish detail
Emperor Constantine, 11th Century CE, Istanbul, Turkey -
Vatican Museum, Second Century, Rome
Very modern-style yet ancient mosaic pattern in Ravenna, Italy
Alexander from The Battle of Issus, Pompeii (detail) second century, BCE 8 x 15 feet!
….a modern example - also present in many roman mosaics
“The loading of the ostriches” - look at the expressions of the ostriches as they’re loaded onto a ship anchored at a Mediterranean port- they’re trying to escape captivity… They’re being loaded onto the large sail boat by two young servants.
The fox hunt - the hunter is just releasing the hound from his leash so he can finish the chase - notice the angle of the animals and how the foxes are lookng back to see where the hound is…
Villa del Casale in Piazza Armerina - stags caught in the net - “ Piccola Caccia” To the right is a couple of horsemen who are driving the stags toward the net. Notice the contrast of the light and shade in these stags - muscles, even the ribcages of the animals showing.
St. Basilica of St. Vitale, Ravenna Dating back to the 6th century…
These are both part of larger mosaics in St. Vitale in Ravenna - Byzantine
Ruled in Constantinople
Ravenna - Heron and Tortise - detail
The kithara was the premier musical instrument of ancient Rome and was played both in popular music and in serious forms of music. Larger and heavier than a lyre, the kithara was a loud, sweet and piercing instrument with precision tuning ability. It was said some players could make it cry. From kithara comes our word guitar and though the guitar more directly evolved from the lute, the same mystique surrounds the guitar idols of today as it did for the virtuoso kithara players, the citharista, and popular singers of ancient Rome. Like other instruments, it came originally from Greece and Greek images portray the most elaborately constructed kitharas.
Many of the instruments and music is taken from Greek culture….
Niki de Saint Phalle, France - 1930 - 2002
Niki de Saint Phalle, France - 1930 - 2002 Queen Calafia’s Magic Circle - Escondido CA
Rooftop of Casa Batllo in Barcelona, Spain
JaYing Wang and her students from the Children’s Art Studio Towne Centre, Alameda
JaYing Wang - Bayfarm School
05.32 Mosaic of a Lion in a Roundel, by an unknown Roman Artist found in Tunis, Tunisia, from the 1st century-2nd century A.D. Mosaic 21 5/16 x 21 5/16in. (54.1 x 54.1cm). From the Museum Collection Fund, Brooklyn Museum.
Sources: Salvatore and Giulia Aglioti, Rome Italy JaYing Wang, mosaic project images http://www.thejoyofshards.co.uk The Institute of Mosaic Art, Oakland, CA Ravenna: Capital of Mosaic by Salabaroli Publications Mosaic Techniques and Traditions by Sonia King The Voices of Silence, by Andre Malraux Mosaics of Piazza Armerina: The hunting by Gino Vinicio Gentili
More from local artist JaYing Wang!
Edison School -
Exploring the art of…
What is a mosaic? <ul><li>Mosaic is defined as: </li></ul><ul><li>a picture or decoration made of small, usually colored pieces of inlaid stone, glass, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>the process of producing such a picture or decoration. </li></ul><ul><li>Tesserae is the plural of " tessera ", a name given to piece used in a mosaic. Originally tesserae were the cubes of stone used in ancient classical mosaics, but now the term is used for pieces of any kind of mosaic material, whether they are ceramic, stone, pebbles, glass or some other substance. </li></ul>
How old is this ancient art form? <ul><li>Where and when were the first mosaics created? What are they made of? </li></ul><ul><li>How are they still around today? </li></ul><ul><li>What do the mosaics show, what do they communicate? What stories do they tell? </li></ul>
Timeline of the Roman Empire Coin of Julius Caesar (the dictator), showing Aeneas, making his escape from Troy. Coin from the Westfälisches Römermuseum, Haltern
Types of mosaic patterns <ul><li>‘ Opus’ means composition, in Latin…or ‘a work, a composition.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Usually relates to music. Also to a work of art, like a mosaic </li></ul><ul><li>Mosaics have different patterns/layouts of tessare, or single pieces of stone, glass, ceramic, porcelain, etc. </li></ul>
Opus Vermiculatum…. <ul><li>Opus vermiculatum - A single row, or several rows, of tesserae following the outline of a feature (such as a figure or other subject) in a mosaic. The effect is a little like a halo, highlighting the subject and providing contrast against a background with teserae laid in a different style. "Vermiculatum" means "worm-like" and is so called because it curves around the contours of the design. </li></ul>
Emperor Constantine, 11th Century C.E., Istanbul, Turkey
Opus Regulatum <ul><li>As the name suggests, this is a very regular pattern of tesserae, like bricks in a wall, or squares on a chess board. </li></ul>
Opus Sectile <ul><li>This is a technique where, instead of being made up of lots of individual tesserae, shapes in a picture are made from larger, specially cut, pieces (perhaps of tile or stone). Also refers to a style of painted fused glasswork developed in Victorian times. </li></ul>
Opus Tesselatum <ul><li>Opus Tesselatum </li></ul><ul><li>A description of rows of tesserae laid in regular horizontal or vertical lines. This style of placement is generally used in backgrounds. </li></ul>
~Opus Paladanium ~ <ul><li>A random-like, “crazy paving” effect of placement of irregular mosaic tesserae. A great example of this technique is in Antoni Gaudi’s work… </li></ul>
Roman Mosaics <ul><li>The expansion of the Roman Empire took mosaics further afield, although the level of skill and artistry was diluted. If you compare mosaics from Roman Britain with Italian ones you will notice that the British examples are simpler in design and less accomplished in technique. </li></ul><ul><li>Typically Roman subjects were scenes celebrating their gods, domestic themes and geometric designs. The inter-twined rope border effect here is called "guilloche". </li></ul>
From Museo Civico Reggio Emilia (Northern Italy)
<ul><li>Representation of Empress Theodora, Ravenna, Italy </li></ul>
<ul><li>Detail of Emperor Justinian, Ravenna, Italy </li></ul><ul><li>527-565 AD </li></ul><ul><li>Byzantine mosaic </li></ul>
Music of Ancient Rome…. <ul><li>This is a picture of a woman playing a kithara. Heavier and larger than a lyre, this instrument produced a loud, sweet, piercing sound, with precision tuning ability. From kithara comes our word guitar. </li></ul>
Music of Ancient Rome…. <ul><li>Musical instruments played by Romans also included the hydraulis (an organ that worked with water pressure) and the curved trumpet, the Cornu… </li></ul><ul><li>Thanks to the mosaics we can see what musical instruments were like! What instruments do we have today that resemble these? </li></ul>