For thorough scholarly evaluation of the history of this subject, please to
Jeanette's book, Micromosaics.
For thorough scholarly evaluation of the history of this subject, please to Jeanette's book, Micromosaics.
What were the early events in Italy that
led up to the development of micromosaics?
After St. Peter’s Basilica was completed around 1600, a crisis arose:
the basilica was so vast that clouds formed in its interior, and the altar
paintings by famous artists were decaying from dampness . A desperate search
began for a lasting material with which to reproduce the paintings.
Seeing that the architectural mosaics had retained their color and had not
decayed, St. Peter’s artistic staff began to experiment with ways of
modifying existing mosaic methods to
serve a new purpose of copying paintings. In order
to reproduce master paintings, thousands of new shades of tesserae
would have to be developed. Also, traditional glass mosaics were shiny. A
mosaic material must be found
whose surface was non-reflective and had the appearance of painting.
By the early nineteenth century, a number of
private mosaic workshops had sprung up in Rome near the Spanish Steps and a
growing tourist market created a demand for micro-mosaic souvenirs. Commercial
mosaics became available in a vast range of sizes and quality. Inexpensive
mementos such as pill boxes and paperweights were available to the average
tourist, while elaborate and costly tabletops, pictures and jewelry were made
for the nobility of Europe.
Esamples of these can be seen at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg,
Russia, at the Vatican, and at the newly opened Gilbert Collection museum
Sadly, like so many time-intensive art
forms, by the end of the nineteenth century the art of micromosaics™ at its
finest had disappeared.
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