A prequel to the extraordinary, highly praised Italian Frescoes series from Abbeville Press, this stunning volume features one thousand years of important Italian mosaics.
Ever since their emergence as a major art form in the Hellenistic era, mosaics have been prized for the glittering radiance of their colors, their permanent, almost eternal nature, and the painstaking craftsmanship required to create them. In late antique and medieval Italy, mosaics were the most important medium for monumental religious art, just as frescoes would be in the Renaissance. In fact, the mosaics that adorn the fourth to sixth-century churches, baptisteries, and mausoleums of Rome, Ravenna, Naples, and Milan are among the first examples of Christian pictorial art on a grand scale. These early works were still indebted to classical conventions, but as the Middle Ages progressed, Italian mosaics came to more clearly reflect a Christian, transcendentalist worldview. Their style usually also displayed a strong Byzantine influence; indeed, in the final flowering of the art in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, many Italian mosaics were actually executed by Byzantine craftsmen.
Italian Mosaics, 300–1300 opens with a concise history of the mosaicist’s art in the millennium under consideration, tying together the strands of style, iconography, technique, and cultural context. The central part of the book examines nineteen celebrated mosaic cycles in detail, including those of the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia in Ravenna, the Basilica di Santa Prassede in Rome, and the Cathedral of Monreale near Palermo. Each cycle is introduced by a descriptive and interpretive essay and then illustrated in its entirety in a series of stunning full- and double-page color photographs, most of which were specially commissioned for this volume.
The first survey of its subject to be published, Italian Mosaics will stand alongside Abbeville’s Italian Frescoes series as an essential addition to the literature on art history.