In Ancient times


Mosaic art originated from Sumer settlements of Mesopotamia dating back to 3000 BC.




Famous columns in Uruk are coated with layers of clay cones (red, black and white) forming geometrical patterns.

Another interesting example of Ancient mosaic art is the symbol of city of Ur. The basic structure is made out of a two-faced wood: one side depicting scenes of peaceful everyday life, another – military themed scenes.




Hellenistic Period


New form of mosaic originated in Ancient Ellada in 4th century BC. It was made of river and sea stones. Clay stripes were used in-between to separate the colors.It is suggested that around 3rd century BC people started making mosaic using pre-crushed small cubes of materials, the so-called tessere.
The Emblem refers to the part of the mosaic located in the center of the floor mosaic art and is surrounded by many frames. The Emblem is an extremely detailed picture, created with miniature material fragments        utilizing technique of opus vermiculatum.



The definition Emblem was referred to the central panel – mosaic resembling picture of extremely detailed imaging, created with miniature materials fragments (via the utilization of the so-called technic opus vermiculatum).

Usually the Emblem, having one or couple of them, is located in the middle of the floor on white or neutral background and surrounded with many frames.





Roman Mosaics


While in Eastern Europe and Asia mosaic was becoming even more complex, Roman empire introduced new style: extremely simple black-and-white mosaics. Basic patterns were utilized: geometric, plant, or animal shapes.







During the next centuries this style, referred to as “Roman mosaic”, spread alongside with the expansion of the Roman Empire. Square pieces of polychrome natural materials (1.5 - 2 cm) were utilized forming lines of various colors. Images were styled without any excessive detail. Frames and background were in black-and-white or neutral color to underline the basic theme. Various motives can be noted: monthly calendars, seasons, mythological figures and creatures, stills, everyday life scenes, hunting scenes, animal fights, gladiators fighting with animals, love scenes, etc.



Byzantine Mosaic Art


With spread of Christianity, Byzantine mosaics flourished (4th-5th centuries) originating from Eastern Roman Empire with its capital in Constantinople.


Some of the cities where these precious works of art could be enjoyed are the old parts of Istanbul, Ravenna (one of the capitals of the Western Roman Empire), Milan, Rome, Thessaloniki, Venice, Cefalu, and Monreale. These mosaics depict religious scenes on the golden background. Illustrations of the New and Old Testament, the images of saints are not only of decorative, but also of didactic meaning as well. They assist to better understand Bible including to those who have not read it.



Mosaic dated between XV and XlX


Artist Domenic Ghirlandaio phrase “true picture for eternity is a mosaic” led to many disputes in the beginning of the 15th century.

In fact, during this period mosaic art temporarily lost its artistic identity and autonomy.
Mosaic art, while in conformity with aesthetic painting requirements, lasted throughout six centuries due to its durability, stability, and precious stones used to create it. In 15th century, workshops were created for mosaic decorations around the Baptistery of Florence. These workshops specialized in processing precious and semi-precious stones, which were than tightly put next to one another, resembling intarsia. In Rome craftsmen ateliers opened to make mosaics around the churches of San Paolo Fuori le Mura, Santa Maria Maggiore, and Santa Maria in Trastevere. During the next centuries these ateliers evolved into schools specializing not only in processing micro-mosaics, but also in recreating valuable Vatican collection mosaics that were threatened by humidity. Another important core formed in Venice: artists from Toscana together with mosaic masters nearby Basillica San Marco collaborated to create exquisite mosaics. However, interferences of the art of painting with mosaic art significantly limited its freedom of expression.

In the 18th century, revival of interest to this technique can be noted. In the second half of the 19th century Gian Domenico Facchina, mosaic master and restorer, perfected the technique of indirect mosaic (also referred to as “paper mosaic”) in Friuli (region that was popular until that moment for its Venetian floor mosaic).


Contemporary mosaic


During the second half of the 19th century, owing to Facchina and his technique of paper mosaic, price and time for making mosaic were reduced. This matched the rhythm and competitive nature of the times, which were stimulated by Industrial Revolution), thus creating opportunity and new stimulus for this art.


In Modernism mosaic splashed over the surfaces turning into decoration and ornament. With revivals of artistic forms (Divisionism, Futurism, Liberty, Cubism) mosaic found a favorable environment for expression on a European scene. It is in 19th century two important schools emerged in Italy, one in Spilimbergo and another in Ravenna.

During 1830s mosaic went back to its monumental, architectural vocation, with social meaning.

A contemporary mosaic has a taste for ornament, decoration, irony, and play. Modern mosaic creating repeats its historical function of architectural elements that are part of internal furnishing.