Mosaics in Art

Mosaics in Art
Ancient floor and wall mosaics have been found dating from BCE to CE. I will discuss the cultures that were proficient in their use of materials to create mosaics that have lasted through the ages.

The earliest known mosaics were found on buildings in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) from the second half – third millennium BCE.

A tiled floor was found at the lost Hittite city of Zippalanda, Turkey. An empire that ruled from 1600-1180 BCE.

Figures of Pleasure (female) and Wealth (male) adorn part of a floor pavement from the 6th century Byzantine Empire. Made of stone and glass tesserae, this portion can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, MA, USA.

Tesserae are small blocks of stone, tile, glass used to make a mosaic. Some of the earliest examples are from 200 BC, made of marble and limestone, replacing pebbles.

A Hellenistic mosaic floor panel from modern day Turkey during the 2nd century BCE is "Alexandrian Parrot" which cleverly illustrates the technique "trompe l'oeil" realism.

During the 3rd century BC, pebble mosaics from Rhodes of mythological creatures (chimaera) are found to have been outlined with fine lead strips.

From the 4th century Greece, a floor mosaic was found having a central figure of Eros (Rome's Cupid) riding a dolphin.

Until the end of the 5th century Greece, pebble mosaic floors displayed floral and mythological themes. The majority found in the 'andro' where men gathered with friends.

From 6th century Antioch, a floor mosaic of a Hunt Scene, measuring 24 ft X 20 ft can be seen at the Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA, USA.

Roman emperor Hadrian built a villa outside of Rome, in Tivoli (date uncertain). Floor decorations of mythological figures such as a centaur have been found.

UNESCO declared Hadrian's Villa a World Heritage Site. Floor mosaics of the Hospitalia (guest rooms are made of black and white tesserae, in geometric and floral patterns).

American artist Louis Comfort Tiffany admired the stained glass of Chartres Cathedral in Paris, as a child.

Circa 1900, Tiffany would design a table lamp with a shade of stained glass, and a mosaic of red, yellow, and green on its base.

Near Chartres Cathedral is Maison Picassiette, built in the 20th century by one man. Considered naïve architecture, it is a mosaic house made of earthenware and glass mosaics cast in cement.

In the 20th century, Native American (Kewa) made a mosaic cuff bracelet from turquoise, shell, and stone.

Modern day mosaic artist Kim Emerson, from San Diego, CA, created public art in the form of a community mosaic for the city of Worcester, MA in 2000.

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