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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/643

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MOSAICS


585


MOSAICS


of " tessellatum," now in the Louvre from this same palace at Susa. This is the only record earlier than the existing examples in the Roman pavements of the Republic and Empire such as remain in the Regia, the Temple of Castor, the House of Livia, Pompeii, etc. Suetonius says that Caesar was ac- customed to carry in his campaign both tessellated and sectile pavements. It appears according to Pliny (XXXVI, i) that in the theatres and basilicas, as well as in certain palaces of noble Romans, the pavements were in tessellated work or in marble sectile, and the walls decorated with marble or glass subjects and patterns. Here is the passage from Holland's quaint translation: "Scaurus when he was Edile, caused a wonderfuU piece of worke to be made, and exceeding all that had ever been knoune wrought by man's hand . . . and a theatre it was: the stage had three lofts one above another . . . the base or nethermost part of the stage was all of marble, the middle of glass, an excessive superfluitie never heard of before or after." Signor Luigi Visconti in- formed Herr von Minutoli (Ueber die Anfertigung und die neu-Anwendung der farbigen Gliiser bei den Alten", p. 13, Berlin, 1S36) that the walls of a cham- ber in a palace between the gate of St. Sebastian and that of St. Paul at Rome were found covered up to five or six feet from the pavement with beautiful marbles and above that with coloured glass plaques and patterns. Some existing examples appear to have been of curious structure, the pieces of coloured glass were laid upon a flat surface and a sheet of glass laid over these and melted to a sufficient heat to join them together.

Concerning the method called "tessellatum" we have existing remains to prove the perfection to which the art w-as carried by the Romans in (he pave- ments, and in remains of wall glass mosaic at Pompeii. One of the finest examples of pavements is the repre- sentation of the "Battle of Issus" from the Casa del Fauno at Pomijcii [p'ig. 1], now in the Naples Museum. Many of the pictures and mosaics in


that these works precede the Christian Era. Their perfection argues a development of considerable an- tiquity, the genesis of which is at present unknown. Of the subsidiary work in mosaic of Roman pave- ments, mention has already been made — it consists of patterns in black and white, plain floors with oma-


FiG. 3 — Specimen op Roman pavement Found at Silchester, England Pompeii are supposed to be traditional copies of celebrated antique paintings; and it is suggested that this "Battle" is a traditional copy of a cele- brated picture by Helen, a daughter of Timon, of the Egyptian Hellenic school. From Pompeii came further the very beautiful columns in glass mosaic now in the Naples Museum [Fig. 2). Pompeii, as we know, was destroyed on 24 August, a. d. 79, so


FlQ. 4 — Specimen of Carthaginian pavement Now in the British Museum, London

mental borders; groups of still life, festoons of flowers, and other designs. These exist in sufficient quantity to show how general was their use. That mo.saic pavements continued in use during the Christian era is proved by the numerous examples that have been discovered, apparently of Roman origin, at places as distant from one another as Carthage, Dalma- tia, Germany, France, and England. In England a great variety have been found in London and in all parts of the country dominated by the Romans; an example from Silchester is given in Figure 3. The British Museum contains many mosaic fragments; amongst these is the fine specimen of work from Carthage [Fig. 4]. Some of the earlier Carthaginian pavements have glass tessera;; the later ones are of marble or ceramic cubes.

Entirely different in method from the work formed of cubes was the opus sectile, where, as already de- scribed, the ornament or picture was formed of pieces of marble, stone, or glass of different colours cut to a required shape, in the same way that a (xiinted glass wimlow is now made. The manufacture of the nec- i>>:ii>' opaque glass was carried to a very great per- I'lliori by the Romans, as is testified by the multi- I uilr (if fragments that have been found in mounds of nililiish or in the Tiber. Opus sectile as a wall diTdration seems to have been very subject to decay, tlie pieces of glass becoming detached by their own weight, on the wall becoming damp, decayed, or shaken. There are some very fine specimens in the Naples Museum; others have been found in the church of St. Andrea in Catabarbara, Rome, which is supposed to have been originally the basilica of the house of the Bassi on the Esquiline, dating from about A. D. 317. From this house comes the spirited work [Fig. 5] of the "Tiger and Heifer," now preserved in the church of St. .Antonio Abbate. The back- ground und stripes of the tiger are in green porphyry, the rest of the timer's skin of giallo anlko; ihe heifer is pale fawn marble, and its eyes of mother-of-pearl. Other decorations of the same house showed that the walls had opus sectile in glass ornament and figures, much in the manner described in the quota-