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Religious mosaic on the facade of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice

Religious mosaic on the facade of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice


The interior of St. Mark's Basilica is a Mecca of Western mosaic. The mosaics on a gold background have earned the church the nickname "Golden Basilica". The first works took place in the years 1071-1084, under the leadership of Doge Domenico Selvo. The majority of mosaics, however, were made during the thirteenth century. Some were added - especially on the facade - between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, designed according to the plans of the schools of Titian and Tintoretto, but the ancient program of mosaics has generally been preserved. The mosaicists covered a total area of 4,240 m2, making one of the largest mosaic ensembles in the world.

The structure of the building of Saint-Marc is in brick masonry. On the wet plaster was drawn a color sketch of the planned scene, then the tesserae were laid one by one and pressed two-thirds of their height in the mortar. The tesserae are here carved in colored glass slabs instead of colored river stones of the ancient technique. The gold and silver tesserae are made of transparent glass enclosing precious metal sheets. Often, they have received a different angle, in order to vary the play of light. © Photo of Emmanuel Buchot

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