1902 Encyclopedia > Mural Decoration > Mural Decoration Methods: (2) Marble Veneer.

Mural Decoration
(Part 2)


(2) Marble Veneer.

2. Marble Veneer.— Another widely-used method of mural decoration has been the application of thin marble linings to wall-surfaces, the decorative effect being produced by the natural beauty of he marble itself and not by sculptured reliefs. One of the oldest buildings in the world, the so-called "Temple of the Sphinx" among the Gízeh pyramids, is built of great blocks of granite, the inside of the rooms being lined with slabs of beautiful semi-transparent African alabaster about 3 inches thick. In the 1st century very veneers of richly-coloured marbles were largely used by the Romans to decorate brick and stone walls. Pliny (H. N., xxxvi. 6) speaks of this practice as being a new and degenerate invention in his time. Many examples exist at Pompeii and in other Roman buildings. Numerous Byzantine churches, such as St Saviour’s Constantinople, and St George’s, Thessalonica, have the lower part of the internal walls richly ornamented in this way. It was commonly used to form a dado, the upper part of the building being covered with mosaic. The cathedral of Monreale and other Siculo Norman buildings owe a great deal of their splendour to these linings of richly-variegated marbles. In most cases the main surface is of light-coloured marble or alabaster, inlaid bands of darker tint or coloured mosaic being used to divide the surface into peculiar Italian-Gothic of northern and central Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries, and at Venice some centuries earlier, relied greatly for its effects on this treatment of marble. St Mark’s at Venice and the cathedral of Florence are magnificient examples of this work used externally. It is in every case a more skin, and is in no way connected with the stability of the structure. Both inside and out most of the richest examples of Moslem architecture owe much to this method of decoration; the mosques and palaces of India and Persia are in many cases completely lines with the most lustrous and brilliant sorts of marble, of contrasting tints arranged and fitted together with consummate skill and knowledge of harmony.

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