The arts have found their evolution through the centuries. They started through the rock, and became more complex to the point of being reflected in the digital media. Art is, after all, a form of expression that humans count on to put out of their heads those ideas , feelings and aspirations that most concern them. One of the best known shapes available for this purpose is, of course, mosaic .

Related topics

Byzantine art , early Christian art , Roman art

What is a mosaic?

Mosaic is a type of artistic technique whose base material consists of the so-called tesserae . The latter are pieces of various materials that, together, form some kind of pictorial or geometric image. This image may have mythological, artistic, and aesthetic motifs.

  • What is the technique
  • characteristics
  • History
  • Types
  • Roman mosaic
  • Byzantine mosaic
  • Venetian mosaic
  • Hydraulic mosaic
  • Representatives
  • Outstanding works

What is the technique

We can see both a technique and the pictorial work that we achieve through it. Its methodology is very simple . It is basically a matter of gathering different pieces of various materials (it can be glass, stones or others) and bringing them together in such a way that their conjunction transmits an image . This image may have mythological , historical and simply aesthetic motifs . Here is a little more about the mosaic and its characteristics.


  • It is a technique that finds its origins in the Assyrians , and that is perfected and used in the ancient European peoples.
  • The origin of the word, according to various sources, is related to the Muses . This is often said since, according to European peoples, such art was something that could only come from the evocation of the Muses .
  • It is a technique that starts from the evolution of the method of making roads in European antiquity. At that time, the roads were made from mere pebbles that were grouped together to form the foundations of the road.
  • The composition of the pieces can vary in terms of marble, enamel, glass , among many others and of infinite colors.
  • The dimensions of the pieces can be a maximum of 1 centimeter .
  • They are usually used for wall decoration , although they are not necessarily limited to it.


Like most stories, the mosaic story could be formally started in Europe . More specifically, in ancient Europe . The technique was adopted by the Greek and Roman populations very naturally, to the point that the latter viewed it with special predilection. In Roman thinking was the belief that it was the most exquisite art of all. Likewise, it was seen as something that could only come from the inspiration given by the Muses .

It was during the Roman Empire that this technique acquired a particular diffusion. It was the favorite among the patricians and emperors of the time. In this way, it was not unusual for representations of the maritime or Homeric to be found on the walls of the palatines .

Although it was mainly used at that time, the mosaic continued to appear in later times. To the point that we find its presence in medieval and contemporary times.


In the Roman case, one can find a diversity of ways in which these pictorial works are presented. The mosaic finds different types depending on the type of pieces used , the image to be captured and the place where the work will be located. Among the types we have:

  • Opus vermiculatum: it is that type of mosaic whose composition starts from small pieces. The purpose of this type of art was based on the representation of pieces or figures in great detail.
  • Opus musivum: which was oriented to the presentation of large murals.
  • Opus sectile: which, unlike the first in this list, used larger pieces.

Roman mosaic

With the conquest of Greece by Rome , a large part of the Hellenistic cultural productions became part of the daily life of the Italians of the time. One of these was, of course, mosaic , which is a technique that the Romans had a special predilection for. This had reached the point that there was no villa or palace that did not have such a work under its belt. The common thing was to find them on walls and ceilings , but over time, it was also incorporated into the floors . Many of these mosaics can still be found today.

Byzantine mosaic

The Byzantine mosaic was not oblivious to the influence of its Italian ancestors, nor to the influence of the East. Being so much in contact with Asian cultures, the Byzantines also used unusual proportions of gold for the representation of their works, and these used to be mainly religious . It is with the Byzantine culture that we can find mosaics with representations of Jesus Christ and other important Christian characters for the time.

Venetian mosaic

Venetians had another trend. His mosaics were made from grid pads quite small and of different colors to be placed on a surface. A Venetian mosaic can be found on bathroom tiles and other homey rooms.

Hydraulic mosaic

One of the most advanced and used mosaics in modern Europe . This type of mosaic was originally made in 19th century France . Its elaboration starts from a series of pigmentation of a series of ” climbs ” that, later, would be pressed through a ” hydraulic press “ dedicated to the implantation of the pigment on a cement surface.


Next, we will mention some of the most important representatives of this technique:

  • Antoni Gaudí.
  • Franz Spohn.
  • Pete Manson.
  • Emma Karp.
  • Scott Blake.
  • Maurice Bennet.
  • Sandy Schimmel.

Outstanding works

Among the most outstanding works we have of the mosaic, we could name:

  • Churches in Ravenna such as Sant ‘Apollinare Nuovo, Sant’ Apollinare and the Basilica of San Vitale have some of the most important and beautiful pictorial representations of Jesus Christ.
  • In Jordan , more particularly in the Church of St. George , one may stumble upon a precious mosaic depicting the city of Jerusalem.
  • In Sicily , after important excavations carried out, mosaics have been found representing some typical scenes from the life of the Romans .


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