I simply love mosaics–from the earliest ones I’ve seen at Ephesus, Herculaneum, St. Mark’s and other Venetian churches, to the charming creations in the foyer of early 20th century Paris apartment buildings as well as modern interpretations of any of these designs. I always look for elegant cuts, artful arrangements and placement of the tesserae, the tonal value of the palette and the skill of the artisans. The beauty of mosaics is in the detail. Whether simple black and white or multi colored, mosaics use thousands upon thousands of small and precious tiles to tell their stories, assessing the effect of light and shade or exploiting complementary colors.

I find it interesting to follow the development of scale and artistry in the earliest mosaics to those in St. Mark’s. The floors of early Christian churches, courtyards and palaces were often decorated with a single continuous band that formed a geometric network of straight lines and curves. Later buildings were decorated with mosaics of stylized representations of animals and flowers often enhanced with recycled colored stones to maintain a link with the past. The artisans were transforming materials like porphyry, terra cotta and stone into elegant patterns and mythological compositions. The results are still magical and wondrous today.

The mosaics photos in this post were taken in Fall 2013 in Venice and Herculaneum.

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