mosaic

(Greek: mouseion, pertaining to the Muses)

A term derived directly from the French mosaique, was probably confined to work formed of small cubes of marble, glass, etc., as distinguished from work formed of pieces of glass, etc., cut to a required shape. The earliest examples are the Roman pavements of the Republic and Empire. The great Christian art of glass mosaic arose in the 4th century. The work in the churches of Ravenna is the finest of the early period. In the 6th century the great mosaics of Saint Sophia were executed and also those of Saint Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna. In the 11th century the Roman School of decorative mosaic was derived from Byzantium through Southern Italy. The mosaics of the 12th century are remarkable for their development of design. Work of this character is sometimes known as cosmati. The great period of Christian mosaic was probably that of the 13th century. The names of Cimabue, Giotto, Cavallini, Torriti are connected with this period, and to it belong some of the mosaics of Saint Mark's, Venice, and many of the Roman churches. After the 14th century mosaics were superseded by frescos and the work deteriorated. The pontifical works for mosaics were established first in 1727, and the Italian mosaicists have executed some important works. Modern mosaic work has been used in London in Saint Paul's Cathedral, and Westminster Cathedral; in Paris in the Pantheon and Madeleine.

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