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mosaics. Mosaics in General. Origins of Mosaics:

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mosaics in general
Mosaics in General
  • Origins of Mosaics:
    • Roman mosaics were influenced by the Greek hellenistic era. 5th Century B.C. Abstract patterns in black and white. Late 5th B.C. animal and human figures introduced (Greek). 4th Century B.C. Mythological scenes. 3rd century B.C. Opus tessellatum originated in Sicily.
mosaics in general3
Mosaics in General
  • Mosaics are called opus tessellatum
  • Made up of cubes called tesserae
  • The tesserae are different coloured marble, tile, other hard stones, brick, glass, metal, pottery.
  • A.D. 1 geometric motive but by A.D. 40 human and animal figures were developing.
  • Emblemata were mosaic paintings made by artists in craftshops. They had all the shading and perspective common to wall paintings. After they were finished the emblemata were brought to a building and inserted into a prepared space in a floor as a centrepiece. These were made of many colours (polychrome)
questions to answer already
  • What era was the Greek Hellenstic era?
  • What happened in the late 5th Century?
  • What was introduced in 4th Century?
  • Where and when was mosaics introduced?
  • What is tesserae?
  • What is Emblemata?
  • What does polychrome mean?
  • Draw a timeline from the previous two slides.
fact scan copy this
  • Date: 125-134AD
  • Type: Art: mosaics
  • Location: Hadrians Villa at Tivoli
  • Height: 52 cm
  • Width: 62 cm

DESCRIBE THIS MOSAIC – use the 5 w’s 1 h – brainstorm the name of this mosaic is goats and goatherd

goats and goat herd
Goats and goat herd
  • the scene is set in a rocky landscape, where a flock of goats graze and rest near a stream
  • to the right of the middle ground stands a bronze statue
  • the figure is dressed in Greek fashion in a long belted tunic. It wears a wreath on its head
  • it holds a bunch of grapes in its right hand
  • it holds a staff topped with leaves in the left hand
  • this is probably an image of the god Dionysus
  • leaning against the rock base of the statue is a painting of uncertain significance
  • it has been suggested that it represents an image (a phallus?) connected with the fertility god Priapus
  • the scene is clearly sacro-idyllic in character
the lion mosaic


  • The bull being attacked shows the techniques used in painting to indicate volume and depth.
  • Shadows cast
  • Body is forshortened with a ¾ view
  • Shading
  • Highlighting
  • Animals outlined


  • The impression of depth is also given:
  • There is overlapping, and lgiht colours
  • Details vary
  • Smaller in size
  • Clear contrast between ground and sky as background colour is not a soft haze
similarities of both mosaics
  • Both mosaics share not only a rich polychromy (various or changing colours) but also certain stylistic features
  • to create the illusion of depth in the scene and volume in the figures, use has been made of * shading* highlighting* three-quarter views* foreshortening especially the "Lion attacking Cattle"
  • in "Goats and Goatherd" linear perspective is noticeable in the diminishing scale of the goats the further into the background they appear
  • such naturalistic characteristics are generally associated with painting particularly Greek painting from the 4th century BC onwards
bursary questions


  • Who owned the villa where this mosaic was found?
  • What technique and materials were used to create this mosaic?
  • What is opis vermiculatum and what ONE advantage is using this method to make mosaics?
  • Compare the mood of this mosaic with the other mosaic you have studied.
  • Discuss the style of this mosaic and give evidence to support your answers.
essay question bursary
Essay question - Bursary
  • Describe the techniques used by the Romans to make mosaics. Outline the subject matter of ONE of the mosaics found in Hadrian’s villa at Tivoli and explain its stylistic features.