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Home > Auctions > 5th December 2023 > Byzantine Cosmatesque Mosaic Panel with Crosiers

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LOT 0226

GBP (£) 5,000 - 7,000
EUR (€) 5,780 - 8,090
USD ($) 6,350 - 8,890

Opening Bid
£2,500 (EUR 2,889; USD 3,174) (+bp*)

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Bids: 0
31 1/2 x 14 in. (41 kg, 80 x 36 cm).

Recalling workmanship similar to that found in the floor of the Sistine Chapel and other important Roman churches; comprising a central panel with design of alternating green and speckled porphyry lozenges, with interstitial green and porphyry squares flanked by green or blue rhombuses on each edge; the square central panel flanked by two green and porphyry roundels composed of panels with inset squares and triangles, with white dentilled edges over a green background; each roundel enclosed within a mosaic crosier, one filled with yellow rhombuses with dentilled edges composed of white, green and porphyry triangles; the other comprising two parallel rows of squares and rhombuses in porphyry, green and black stones.

French gallery, Paris, 1990s.
From a family collection.

Accompanied by an academic report by Dr Raffaele D'Amato.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by search certificate number no. 11921-209564.

See Boito, C., Architettura Cosmatesca, Torino, 1860; Hutton, E., The Cosmati, The Roman Marble Workers of the XIIth and XIIIth Centuries, London, 1950; Tosca, P., Storia dell’Arte Italiana, il medioevo, vol. III, Torino, 1965; Glass, D., Studies on Cosmatesque Pavements, BAR Publishing, London, 1980; Matthiae, G., 'Componenti del gusto decorativo cosmatesco,' in Rivista dell'Istituto Nazionale di Archeologia e Storia dell'Arte, vol. I, 1952, pp.249-281; Cigola, M., 'Mosaici pavimentali cosmateschi. Segni, disegni e simboli,' in Palladio, Nuova serie, anno VI n. 11, Giugno, 1993, pp.101-110; Grant, L. & Mortimer, R. (eds.), Westminster Abbey. The Cosmati Pavements, Courtauld Research Papers no.3, 2002.

A similar pattern to the current panel can be seen on the cosmatesques of the Grottaferrata Abbey, near Rome, variously dated between the 1160 and 1282 A.D., which can be a good chronological indicator for our mosaic for style and composition. The Cosmatesque style was a characteristic type of ornamentation of Eastern Roman origin (opus alexandrinum) in the technique of opus sectile (elements already cut with the final shape: circles, squares, triangles and lozenges; small geometric elements which, expertly fitted together, manage to create the effect of a magnificent embroidered carpet) used by marble-makers of the 12th and 13th centuries A.D. The practice of inlaying glass and stone tesserae into white marble panels in this way, although reaching its zenith under the directorship of the Cosmati, had already been established in the Eastern Roman Empire for at least five centuries, and by the 12th century many marble pavements and panels of Opus Alexandrinum had been used to decorate prestigious churches and religious foundations, both across Italy and further afield, often by reusing old Roman monuments.