The stone shops2021-05-08T09:11:13+00:00

The history of mosaics in Florence

The oldest mosaics known today date back to the third millennium BC.

These are the magnificent mosaics found in Egyptian burials. However, much more famous are the mosaics made by the Greeks and Romans: mosaic art was appreciated and often used to embellish their most refined residences. And together with the mosaics made with small geometric stone tesserae, in the rich palaces and basilicas there are also floors in marble salesmen called sectilia, that is, “cut into thin sheets”, chosen by color and with which they formed the delicate figured designs.

Precisely this technique can be recognized as the ancestor of the “Florentine mosaic” also called “committed in semi-precious stones”.

As often happens, the art of Florentine mosaic was born thanks to human vanity and the desire to leave a Thracian in eternity.

Every art needs some patron, and the Florence of the Medici was rich and generous with artists.

n 1588 the Grand Duke Ferdinando I de ‘Medici established the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence which was to ensure the realization of the ambitious project of his father, Cosimo I.

The first Grand Duke of Tuscany, had decided to create a worthy burial for the members of his famous family.

Cosimo did not have time to see his dream come true, and it was his sons who built the great Chapel of the Princes at the Basilica of San Lorenzo.

The walls and the floor of the chapel are covered with stones of great value, and the initial project (which was never completed) also involved covering the vault with lapis lazuli to imitate the blue color of the sky.

In the walls of the chapel are inserted the coats of arms of the cities of the Grand Duchy made with the technique of “commesso in pietre dure”.

The masters of the Opificio executed every detail of the coats of arms with great care.

Even more surprising are the mosaics on the altar that seem painted with a very fine brush.

The refinement of the motifs, the perfection of the execution and the human genius who saw the beauty and liveliness of the colors in the rock amaze.

The stones came from all over the world, and one of the first masters, Costantino de ’Servi was even sent to the court of Persia to supply the Opificio!

Incredible that even after 450 years the modern masters of the Florentine salesman use practically the same tools, the same recipe for glue and above all the same indispensable ingredient, namely elbow grease!

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