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Mosaics are displayed in reverse chronological order
The cycle is a 4 - part series based on the legend of King Arthur. Much of the text has been obtained from Thomas Bulfinch's "Age of Fable", "La Morte D'Arthur" by Sir Thomas Mallory and the sacred-texts website.
This is the complete cycle. Details of individual elements are listed further below/
Other elements of the cycle are listed further below.
The Return of the Sword to the Lady of the Lake - 4 (2013)
Toward the end of his reign, during the troubled times of Medrod's rebellion, Excalibur was stolen by King Arthur's wicked half-sister, Morgan le Fay. Though it was recovered, the scabbard was lost forever. Thus Arthur was mortally wounded at the Battle of Camlann. The King then instructed Bedivere (Bedwyr or Girflet) to return Excalibur to the lake from whence it came. However, when questioned about the circumstances of its return, Bedivere claimed to have seen nothing unusual. Arthur then knew that Bedivere had kept Excalibur for himself and sent him back to the Lake once more. Hurling the sword into the misty waters this time, Bedivere saw the mystic hand appear to catch Excalibur and draw it beneath the rippling waters for the last time.
Weight: 30 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold (oro granulato, bianco, antique), titanium, jewels (precious and semi-precious), murrines (millefiore).
Material source: Smalti.com, mosaicsmalti.com, Tabularasa
The Drawing of the Sword - 1 (2013)
Long, long ago, after Uther Pendragon died, there was no king in Britain, and every Knight hoped to seize the crown for himself. When things were at their worst, came forth Merlin the magician, and fast he rode to the place where the Archbishop of Canterbury had his dwelling. And they took council together, and agreed that all the Lords and gentlemen of Britain should ride to London, and meet on Christmas Day in the Great Church. And on Christmas morning, as they left the Church, they saw in the yard a large stone, and on it a bar of steel, and in the steel a naked sword was held, and about it was written in letters of gold, "Whoso pulleth out this sword, is by right of birth King of England". They marvelled at these words, and then those Knights who fain would be King, tugged at the sword with all their might, but it never stirred. The Archbishop watched them in silence, and decreed that on New Year's Day, a tournament should be held, and any Knight who would, might enter the lists.
So on New Year's Day, the Knights met in the field, to make ready for the tourney. Among them was a brave Knight called Sir Ector, who brought with him, Sir Kay, his son and Arthur, Kay's foster brother. In his haste to be at the tourney, Kay had unbuckled his sword the previous evening, and so bade Arthur to ride back and fetch it for him. When Arthur reached the house, it was locked, for the women had gone to see the tourney. Not wanting to disappoint Kay, Arthur decided to take the sword from the stone and give it to his brother. Galloping to the church as fast as he could, he jumped down, and running up to the stone, seized the handle and drew it easily out, and delivered it to Kay. Recognizing that this was no ordinary sword, but the sword from the stone, Sir Kay sought out his father Sir Ector, and said to him, "Sir, this is the sword from the stone, and therefore, I am the rightful King". On being forced by Sir Ector to tell the truth about how he had gotten hold of the sword, Sir Kay confessed, "My brother Arthur gave it to me". Arthur then recounted his story to Sir Ector. "Were any Knights present when you did this ?", asked Sir Ector. "No, none" replied Arthur. "Then it is you who are rightful King of this land, for it is an enchanted sword, and no man can draw it but he who was born a King. Therefore put the sword back, and let me see you take it out ", said Sir Ector. Arthur then replaced the sword in the stone, and even Sir Ector himself could not draw it. Sir Kay fared no better than his father, but Arthur pulled it out easily, while Sir Ector and Sir Kay sank on their knees before him. "You are son of Uther Pendragon, and you were brought to me when you were born by Merlin himself, who promised that when the time came, I should know from whom you sprang. And now it has been revealed to me".
After that the crown was put on his head, and he swore to the Lords and commons that he would be a true King, and would do them justice all the days of his life.
Weight: 30 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold (oro granulato, bianco, naturale, rosso, antique), titanium, jewels (precious and semi-precious), murrines (millefiore).
Material source: Smalti.com, mosaicsmalti.com, Tabularasa
Size: 11 x 14
Materials: Smalti, jewels, abalone shell
Material source: smalti.com
Memento Vivere - Fran (2012)
Size: 11 x 14
Materials: Smalti, jewels
Heraldry and the Knights of the Round Table - 2 (2009)
The Arthurian legends, written up in the 12th and 13th centuries, enjoyed extraordinary popularity throughout Medieval Western Europe. Very naturally, the characters of the Arthurian cycles were given arms by writers, and as early as the late 12th c. conscious efforts were made toward consistency within a work. By the late 13th c., a stable set of about 30 arms could be said to exist: this is described in Brault's work (Brault, G.J.: Early Blazon. Oxford, 1972. ).
The development of this Arthurian heraldry slows in the 14th c. but picks up again in the 15th c. In France, in particular, a number of armories of the knights of the Round Table were compiled from 1440 onward. Pastoureau has found 74 such armories in various libraries. They were mainly intended as reference books for book illustrators in Paris and Northern France as they painted illuminations for editions of the Lancelot and Tristan stories. They all seem to come from the same source, likely composed in the early 15th c. in Normandy.
The resulting armory published by Pastoureau (Pastoureau, Michel: Armorial des chevaliers de la Table Ronde. Paris, 1983; Le Léopard d'Or ) contains 178 names, with each a blazon, crest, supporters and a motto in French, Latin or Britton. Nine out of ten characters are present in one of the major 13th c. Arthurian works (Lancelot en prose, Tristan en prose, Guiron le Courtois). Some important figures are missing: women but also some first-order figures (Marc, Merlin, Uterpendragon, etc).
King Arthur, after he had defeated the Saxons in various battles and brought under his rule Scotland, Ireland and the neighboring isles and ravaged the principality of Wales, established, on his return from his expeditions, an order of knighthood in order to requite the services of twenty four of his most valiant warriors, and to show equal love and esteem for all of them, he had a round table made in 516 for those honored of his order, to meet and feast on all festive days, with their shields hanging at their back, hence the name "Knights of the Round Table" .
Weight: 25 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold (oro granulato, bianco, rivestimento, naturale, rosso, antique), jewels (precious and semi-precious), murrines (millefiore).
Quest for the Sangreal - 3 (2005)
The Sangreal is another name for the Holy Grail, a legendary sacred vessel associated with divine revelation, whose origins go back to the Last Supper. In Arthurian legend, the Grail quest represented a heroic and mystic adventure attempted by the Knights of the Round Table and was achieved by Sir Bors (right), Sir Percival (center), and Sir Galahad (left).
It was the Cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper, into which He shed His blood from the cross, and which was brought subsequently to Europe, by Joseph of Arimathea. From generation to generation, one of the descendants of Joseph of Arimathea had been devoted to the guardianship of these precious relics; but on the sole condition of leading a life of purity in thought, word, and deed. For a long time the Sangreal was visible to all pilgrims, and its presence conferred blessings upon the land in which it was preserved. But at length one of those holy men to whom its guardianship had descended so far forgot the obligation of his sacred office as to look with unhallowed eye upon a young female pilgrim whose robe was accidentally loosened as she knelt before him. The sacred lance instantly punished his frailty, spontaneously falling upon him, and inflicting a deep wound. The Sangreal withdrew its visible presence from the crowds who came to worship. Merlin directed Arthur through Sir Gawain to undertake the recovery of the Sangreal, informing him at the same time that the knight who should accomplish that sacred quest was already born, and of a suitable age to enter upon it. Sir Gawain delivered his message, and the king was anxiously revolving in his mind how best to achieve the enterprise, when, at the vigil of Pentecost, all the fellowship of the Round Table being met together at Camelot, as they sat at meat, suddenly there was heard a clap of thunder, and then a bright light burst forth, and every knight, as he looked on his fellow, saw him, in seeming, fairer than ever before. All the hall was filled with sweet odors, and every knight had such meat and drink as he best loved. Then there entered into the hall the Holy Grail, covered with white samite, so that none could see it, and it passed through the hall suddenly, and disappeared. During this time no one spoke a word, but when they had recovered breath to speak King Arthur said, “Certainly we ought greatly to thank the Lord for what he hath showed us this day.” It was then that several of the Knights made a vow that for twelve months they would seek the Sangreal, and not return till they had seen it.
Weight: 25 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold (oro granulato, bianco, rivestimento, naturale, rosso, antique), jewels (precious and semi-precious), murrines (millefiore), crackled glass.
Fishface - Twilight at Molokini (2004)
What I've attempted to recreate here are a few of the inhabitants of Hawaii's coral reefs. The fish in question (from left to right) are the ornate butterflyfish, the wrasse and the parrotfish. Kaleidoscopic in color, each was created as a memento of a treasured time spent snorkelling at the Molokini Crater. Smalti is the material of choice here, and murrines and shell have been added to only enhance the beauty of these marine creatures.
Size: 7"x9" each
Weight: 3 lbs each
Materials: Smalti, millefiore (murrines), abalone shell.
The design for "Lust" is based on one of a seven-part series of tapestries by Dutch designer Pieter Coecke van Aelst, titled the "Seven Deadly Sins". The originals were woven in Brussels, ca. 1542-44 and currently reside in the Patrimonio Nacional, Palacio Real de Madrid. Reinterpreting a long-standing medieval fascination with the conflict between the Vices and Virtues, the series places an eclectic collection of exemplary figures in a Renaissance setting. The description of its complex iconography is culled from a manuscript that still survives in Madrid. The tapestry typically contained one dominant Vice, surrounded by exemplary figures that either embodied, or failed to embody the Vice. The human figures have been modified to be part-human and part-winged exotic creatures, much like those created by goldsmiths during the Art Nouveau period. Lalique is paid homage in the depiction of Lust, represented with a crown of roses (the flower of love), who admires herself in a mirror (the symbol of vanity and seduction) held in one hand while lifting a golden chalice in the other, an allusion to the "cup of abominations" of the Whore of Babylon in the Apocalypse of St. John (17:4). Both sublime and predatory, she is portrayed as being one with nature (the dragonfly body), and yet does not exist in a natural form. In her wake trail the flames of Hell, containing none other than Lucifer, depicted "traditionally" in the form of a serpent. Ahead of her lie Carnal Pleasure (male moth) and Voluptuousness (female peacock), who ensnare "many in kisses and vicious embraces, attracted by transitory desire and mortal delectation"! Near the base lies Inconstancy (depicted by the scorpion), blind to the Inferno about to engulf it, while at the top, the spider weaves its web of seduction. Above and to the right corner of the picture are a family of ladybugs - they represent, the virtue of Chastity. To view the original tapestry and see how the mosaic was created, visit the mosaic in the making page.
Weight: 16 lbs
Materials: Smalti (regular and irridized), gold (oro granulato, rivestimento, rosso, bianco, cobalt blue, verde botiglia, verde acido, antique), jewels (baroque pearls (white and violet), South Sea pearls, peridot, bicolored emeralds, Australian opals), millefiore (murrines), glass cabochons, crackled glass, jasper (brecciated, leopard skin, ocean, yellow), agate (crazy lace, moss), carnelian, citrine, sodalite.
St. Michael, who shares top billing along with St. George and St. Demetrios as the three most famous warrior saints, was one of the most popular military saints in Byzantium. This mosaic, composed in a Byzantine style, portrays the angel-saint dressed in armored splendor. The power of this military image is enhanced by the figure's pose and the way he dominates the space, almost overwhelming it. Clad in a form-fitting corselet flashing with sharp gold highlights, the saint carries a spear in one hand and an orb in another, signifying Christ's dominion over everything. The slightly unbalanced pose of this frontal figure, which serves to characterize the saint as a man of action, is typical of warrior portraits.
Weight: 7 lbs
Materials: Smalti (regular and irridized), gold (oro granulato, rivestimento, rosso, bianco, cobalt blue, verde botiglia, antique), jewels (baroque pearls, round pearls), millefiore (murrines), Venetian cabochons, metallic vitreous glass, crackled glass.
Reminiscent of late Gothic English architecture introduced by John Wastell in 1504, this mosaic is an example of the crowning glory in a long history of fan vaulting. This distinctive feature was found in several cathedrals in England, notably the archbishopric of Canterbury, long considered to be the ecclesiastical center of the country. The distinctive feature in this architecture is the vertical "pull" of the piers and the engaged columns, whose densely clustered profiles soared upward in a slender procession, then at the foot of the vaults transfer into fanlike radiating ribs, and finally terminate around the center in (occasionally) star-shaped patterns.
Weight: 3.5 lbs
Materials: Smalti (regular and irridized), gold (oro granulato, rivestimento, rosso, bianco, cobalt blue), jewels (baroque pearls, lapis lazuli, jade, unakite, peridots, carnelian, tourmaline), millefiore (murrines), Venetian cabochons, metallic vitreous glass.
Inspired by a Fra Angelico painting, the "Linaiuoli Triptych", this mosaic attempts to reproduce a "musician angel". Patterned after Gothic altarpieces, the widespread wings have been tiled in a typical Renaissance "rainbow" pattern. The border style is loosely drawn from a pattern on a ceiling "rib" in an old Roman church. To see how the mosaic was created, visit the mosaic in the making page.
Weight: 12 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold (oro granulato, bianco, rivestimento, naturale, rosso, antique), jewels (bicolor emeralds, sapphires, pearls - baroque and round, unakite, moonstones, peridots, carnelian, amber), millefiore (murrines), metallic vitreous glass, crackled glass, Venetian cabochon.
When speaking of the Celts, one of the most evocative images that comes to mind is that of the Celtic cross. Many magnificent examples of carved crosses are found all over Ireland, the Hebrides, the Isle of Mann and Wales. While early crosses were usually positioned as meeting places, often within a Celtic monastic settlement, in modern times, most usually signify burial sites. Yet, some were created for their sheer beauty and others "in the glory of God". This is an example of a "high cross", usually a cross within a circle. The Celtic cross today symbolizes the blending of the Celtic and Christian traditions with the weaved latticework and fancy knots of typical Celtic design. This design was obtained from Celtic artist, Cari Buziak's website, Aon Celtic Art, and is available as a free clip art design.
Weight: 6.5 lbs
Materials: Smalti (regular and transparent), gold (oro bianco, granulato), iridescent tiles, millefiore, jade, pearls, white sapphires.
Carnevale di Venezia (2002)
Exhibited at "Earth Elements", National Juried Show, Society of American Mosaic Artists, FL
The Carnevale di Venezia originated from a victory of 'La Serenissima', over Ulrico, Patriarch of Aquileia in 1162. To celebrate this victory, dances and reunions took place at the San Marco Piazza. The magicians, charlatans, performers, the music of Vivaldi, the masks, the beautiful and mysterious men and women are what symbolize the Carnival. From this evolved the Commedia dell'Arte.
Commedia dell'Arte, meaning "artistic comedy", was a theatrical, often humorous and bawdy presentation by actors who travelled throughout 16th century Italy. What is being displayed here are four of the primary Commedia dell'Arte characters: Colombina, Il Capitano, Arlecchino and Pulcinella. All of them are represented in caricature with pseudo-Venetian backdrops.
I : The figure here depicts Colombina; she was usually portrayed as the lover or wife of Arlecchino. When the character of Colombina originated, she was more buxom, lustier and overtly sexual....she was also called Franceschina, Smeraldina, etc then. Devious, witty and sarcastic, her role was noted for her coquetry. She is affectionate, but always holds something back. Consequently, she is pestered by many men, notably Il Capitano and Pantalone.
II : Depicted here is Arlecchino (Harlequin) - often known as the beloved of Columbina. An amorous acrobat, both childlike and humorous, and often given to wit, this was undoubtedly the most popular of the characters. In practice, he is usually the servant of Il Capitano, or Pantalone. He frequently adopts disguises, and cross-dresses without demur. He is also known to always carry his batocchio (or bat) - as a comedic device, it is used mostly as a phallic symbol, and never with menace. His movements are usually crisp and staccato, or completely sloppy and clumsy. His character is a mixture of ignorance, naivete, wit, stupidity and grace. He is both a rake and an overgrown boy with occasional gleams of intelligence, and his mistakes and clumsiness often have wayward charm.
III : This is Pulcinella, an actor, small of stature and cruel of disposition, with a crooked and bent nose, he was enamored of young, pretty girls. He is often represented as Punch in the "Punch and Judy" shows. . His nose has the form of a beak which the ancients called "pullus gallinaceus". It is thought the etymology of the word derives from the word "Pulliciniello" that is pulcino or chick. He is depicted as taking on contradictory personalities, both stupid and astute, bold and cowardly.
IV : The figure depicted here is Il Capitano, a swaggering Captain, long stripped of that title. At first, more terrible than ridiculous, he grew into a bonafide comic figure, a cowardly adventurer, odious but dignified. In the Commedia dell'Arte, it was the populace of the time who created an extravagant caricature of the condottiere. He was always their enemy, whether fighting for or against them. His mask was graced with a long nose, unambiguously phallic, and therefore designed to attract attention from women, and intimidate men. The best example of the captain, with his cock-and-bull boasts is Cyrano de Bergerac.
This is a picture of the complete series. To see a log of work-in-progress pictures, visit the mosaic in the making page.
Weight: 6 lbs each (approx)
Materials: Smalti (regular and transparent) gold (oro granulato, rosso, naturale, bianco), pearls, marble, millefiore, glass baubles, cabochons.
Loosely patterned on an archangel from the 12-13th century mosaic, "The Last Judgement", in the church of S. Maria Assunta of Torcello, this mosaic is representative of the Byzantine style. The mosaic is framed in a simple gold border.
Weight: 11 lbs
Materials: Smalti (regular and transparent), gold (oro bianco, naturale, rivestimento, antique), millefiore, jade, pearls, mother-of-pearl, glass cabochons, marble.
Excerpt from Thomas Bullfinch's "Age of Fable": The Griffin is a monster with the body of a lion, the head and wings of an eagle, and back covered with feathers. Like birds it builds its nest, and instead of an egg lays an agate therein. It has long claws and talons of such a size that the people of that country make them into drinking-cups. India was assigned as the native country of the Griffins. They found gold in the mountains and built their nests of it, for which reason their nests were very tempting to the hunters, and they were forced to keep vigilant guard over them. Their instinct led them to know where buried treasures lay, and they did their best to keep plunderers at a distance. The Arimaspians, among whom the Griffins flourished, were a one-eyed people of Scythia. Milton borrows a simile from the Griffins, "Paradise Lost," Book II.:
"As when a Gryphon through the wilderness
The griffin's dual nature led it to be associated with Jesus Christ, God and man, king of heaven and earth. The eagle half of the griffin signified Christ's divinity and the lion half represented His humanity. The strength of the lion and the wisdom of the eagle combined in the griffin symbolized the strength and wisdom of God. To see a log of work-in-progress pictures, visit the mosaic in the making page.
See Tim Spalding's superlative website on griffins: Griffins in Art and on the Web
Size: 21" diameter
Weight: 18 lbs
Materials: Smalti (regular and transparent) gold (oro rosso, naturale, bianco), pearls, marble, millefiore, mother of pearl leaves, metallic vitreous tile.
Does the Devil exist? No one knows for sure...yet, there existed a need in humanity to create him. The Devil has always existed in the imaginations of the world's great authors and poets. He is the apotheosis of all our dreadful thoughts and desires. Dante's unique poem follows a very simple law - as a soul sins, so shall it be punished. I've attempted to create a visual form of Dante's "Inferno" using characters from therein. To read about the "story" behind the visual, and to see how the mosaic was created, visit the mosaic in the making page.
Weight: 22.5 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold (oro granulato, bianco, naturale), jewels (peridots), crackled glass.
This mosaic is representative of a bird (the peacock) that cross-culturally embodied paradise, rebirth and immortality. The figure of the peacock has been used extensively, not only in illustrations and murals, but also as part of religious imagery in Christian, Moslem, Hindu and Buddhist art. I've attempted to create a stylized form of the bird and have used materials that I hadn't used before viz. transparent smalti. The creation of this mosaic is also available on the mosaic in the making page.
Weight: 14 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold (oro bianco), jewels (midnight blue sapphires, pearls, jade, citrine, peridots).
Exhibited at "Pieceful Visions", National Juried Show, Society of American Mosaic Artists, SC
Review: Shamelessly opulent and exquisitely crafted, A Midsummer Night's Dream transports the viewer into a land of keyed-up fantasy. A profusion of intense colors as in a Mardi Gras parade (red faces, blue faces, a river of gold and reds and floating baubles) make this mosaic celebratory and theatrical.
This mosaic is a representation of some of the characters in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"; depicted are Oberon and Titania (King and Queen of the Fairies), Lysander and Hermia, Puck and Nick Bottom (in silhouette); also represented are a motley collection of tree sprites and other forest denizens. I've attempted to depict the subjects as masks, hence the bright colors!! The creation of this mosaic is also available on the mosaic in the making page.
Weight: 20.5 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold (oro rosso, oro bianco, oro naturale), crackle glass, jewels (gold sapphires, emeralds, citrine, peridots), metallic vitreous tile, onyx, agate.
Created for a good friend, this is my first attempt at working with marble. The idea behind creating this mosaic was to be able to use marble tiles with monochromatic colors to create a simplistic, if timeless version of the male form.
The creation of this mosaic is available on the mosaic in the making page.
Weight: 15 lbs
Materials: Marble (Onice Pakistan, Verde Cina, Verde Laguna and Onice Aranca), gold (oro rosso, oro naturale, oro rivestimento, oro granulato), smalti, metallic vitreous tile.
The three panels in cloisonne enamel were the basis for this composite mosaic. The central picture was used as the basis for the figure; the bust portrait primarily as a design for the jewel encrusted breastplate, and the third for the depiction of the detail in the wings - a stylized form. More detail is available on the mosaic in the making page.
Weight: 27 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold smalti (flat, red, wavy and granulated), mirror tile, metallic vitreous glass, jewels - real and glass (pearls, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, garnets, citrine, peridots, jade, lapis, tourmalines).
As the name suggests, "Primavera" represents the arrival and celebration of Spring.Venus, Goddess of Love, appears in the middle of an orange grove, on a meadow adorned with flowers. The poet, Ovid, in "Fasti" portrays the beginning of Spring as the transformation of the nymph Chloris (far right in the picture) into Flora, Goddess of Flowers. Zephyrus, who is pursuing her, was so fired with wild passion upon catching sight of her, that he took her by force. Regretting the violence of his actions, however, he transformed her into the Flower-Goddess of Spring. Her robe is lavishly adorned with flowers. Her garland is composed of innumerable flowers, identifying her as the goddess from whom flowers come. I've attempted to recreate her portrait in mosaic form.
Weight: 19 lbs
Materials: Smalti, metallic vitreous glass, glass baubles.
Created for me by Lia Catalano (reverse chronological order)
Empress Theodora (2000) (Church of San Vitale, Ravenna) - portrait created for me by Lia Catalano - visit her website http://www.hannacroismosaics.com for this and other mosaic items, including a making of the Empress Theodora panel.
Empress Theodora was said to be the daughter of an animal trainer in the circus, and that she was an actress and prostitute before her marriage (523) to
Justinian I, who on his ascension to the throne in 527, made her joint ruler of
the Byzantine empire. She is represented in the mosaics of the church of San
Vitale, in Ravenna with her retinue, opposite a similar mosaic of her husband.
Weight: 20 lbs
Materials: Smalti, gold smalti (flat and granulated), metallic vitreous glass, crackle glass.