Byzantine mosaics were manufactured during the 4th to 15th century AD, they consisted of small pieces of glass, stone, ceramic and other mediums. Most mosaics were used to enrich floors, much like this fine example, and therefore were produced from colourful stones that could withhold people walking across them. Those on walls could use more fragile materials such as gold leaf or pearls. Before tiling the tesserae, a foundation was created from many layers, the last consisting of a crushed lime and brick powder. The artists would then map out their designs using string and compasses before laying the tiles down. The tesserae were then placed at certain angles to create a glittering effect when hit by the light. During the Byzantine period, mosaics were focused more on symbolism rather than realism unlike those of Roman and Greek origin. Alongside religious imagery, geometric patterns were favoured for decorating the floors and walls of private and public spaces.
Byzantine Marble Floor Panel on a Table
A Byzantine marble floor panel displaying a geometric mosaic formed from tesserae produced from different stones. At the centre is a square with concave sides filled with green porphyry, speckled porphyry and multicoloured smaller squares which alternate. To the left is a circle filled with six triangles, all with concave sides, with a further four speckled porphyry triangles inside each. The circle is framed with a row of small yellow triangles facing outwards. A thick band encompasses the circle displaying a semi-circle loop which at the top becomes straight and projects out to the right, possibly resembling a crozier. The band is filled with two rows of alternating square and lozenge-shaped rectangles of green and speckled porphyry. This motif is flipped horizontally and vertically on the other side. However, the band consists of bright yellow lozenge-shaped rectangles in a row with smaller triangles on either side. The piece is mounted on a custom-made table formed from a metal stand. This panel displays similarities to the floors from important churches in Rome such as the Sistine Chapel.
The actual marble measures 60cm length, 36cm width.
Condition: Excellent condition, fragmentary piece with slight chips to the edges and a few scratches to the surface.