mosaic: Medieval Mosaics

Through the importation of Greek workmen, a revival took place in Italy in the 11th cent. which lasted into the 13th cent., producing the beautiful mural works of Rome, of Saint Mark's Church and Torcello at Venice, and of Palermo, Monreale, and Cefalù in Sicily. Rich medieval marble and mosaic floors with geometric patterns appeared in Italy, Sicily, and the East. In Russia, especially in Kiev, remarkable figural mosaics were set into the walls.

From the 13th cent., mosaic in Italy and Sicily extended to many architectural elements, such as pulpits, bishops' thrones, paschal candlesticks, and the twisted columns of cloisters. These adornments are commonly termed Cosmati work, after the family of Roman artisans especially gifted in their execution. The rise of fresco decoration in the early 14th cent. in Italy superseded mosaic, which then began to deteriorate into mere simulation of painting, although it lingered in Venice, Greece, and Constantinople.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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