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The Intriguing History of Mosaic Art

Kashmira Lad
Mosaic art is one of the most beautiful forms of art that has made its presence felt throughout the years. A brief history of Mosaic art is given here, along with a few interesting facts and details.
Beautiful and colorful, mosaic art is certainly eye-catching on any surface. The popularity of this art in the modern times is because of its increasing use in interior designing. Artistic forms of this art can be found on walls and even furniture.
Mosaic art is about the artist's creativity and how he makes beautiful artwork with small pieces of colored stones, glass etc. This form has been seen for years and is a widely used technique from olden days. History reveals details about this technique.

Odyssey of Mosaic Art

Thousands of years ago, mosaic art was created with the help of basic tools combined with creativity. Splendid works have been found in various periods of different civilizations. Its accurate origins have been difficult to trace.
In earliest examples, historians mention pavements that used this art. It was created with the help of raised pebbles. They were placed to create geometrical patterns and shapes. The Greeks particularly used this in 4th century BC.
During the later period of the 4th century, mosaic art was used in early Christian art. It was seen on the walls and ceilings of many Christian basilicas.
However, not all the works have survived. These patterns depict religious themes. They are outstanding because of the colors used and the compositions as well.
The ones at the St. Aquilinus Chapel of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, need to be mentioned particularly due to the beauty of their exquisite beauty.
By 5th century, mosaic art had interested the Romans. This was evident with the beautiful designs in Ravenna, the last capital of Western Roman Empire. These designs are seen in many areas. It is thus known as the 'Capital of Mosaics'.
Ravenna was later conquered by the Byzantine Empire. Christian mosaics started developing during the 6th century. New ideas and techniques were introduced during the Byzantine Empire.
Artists used 'smalti', which is a special type of glass. The effects of this glass were simply beautiful, as the pieces had tiny air bubbles, which added to the beauty of this art.
There is also a difference in the styles of the Roman and the Byzantine period. During the Roman period, mosaics were used to decorate the floors whereas during the Byzantine period, they were used to add beauty to the walls and ceilings. The ones of the Byzantine period were based mainly on figurative elements.
The use of mosaic art can be seen in Islamic art as well. It was all about the use of geometric shapes. The Great Mosque at Cordoba, and the Dome of the Rock located in Jerusalem are perfect examples. This art was used to decorate buildings of religious significance.
Meanwhile, in Rome, it was between the 12th and the 13th century when artists developed their own distinct style. The themes were religious, and also incorporated geometric designs.
The scenes from the life of Mary in Santa Maria, completed during this period show great angles of perspective with a touch of realism. This is one of the finest forms of mosaic art of this period.
During Middle Ages, the art continued to make a mark in many parts of Italy. Some of the best mosaics were in Sicily and Venice. Earliest designs date back to 1225. The interiors and facades of churches in Italy have the best designs of that period.
During the latter period of Middle Ages, frescoes were used as decoration instead of mosaics. Yet, many artists of the Renaissance period preferred the older technique. Great artist Raffaello is known for his creation on dome of the Chigi Chapel.
Jerusalem also had some of the finest creations of this art in many holy places. These however, did not survive because of they were destructed over a period of time. The Jews also incorporated this art in their synagogues.
The remains of certain mosaics found by historians reveal many interesting examples of this form of art. However, with time, churches and other religious monuments used other forms of art as a decorative element.
In the modern times, mosaic designs and patterns continue to make waves, and is used in many interesting ways for decoration and interiors. Artists can create creative designs with the help of the modern techniques available. Surely, this beautiful art is eternal!