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beautiful in mosaic art has been produced by number of square feet of surface can be forwarded means of this ancient method, it seems natural from Venice to any part of the world—to America or enough that it should have the affection, and to India—with safety and at little cost.?'. even veneration, of many mosaists. To abandon To go a little into detail : the studio should it is to break with the past, and artistic senti always be well lighted and well ventilated. ment is conservative, but
The workers are under the control of an
artist who is also an experienced mosaist" the old order changeth, yielding place to new,"
indeed, his qualification for the post is that he and there are many indications leading to the
possesses a large and varied experience in the conclusion that, except with reference to small
practice of mosaic art, works in which the designer is interested as
The working mosaists are divided into grades mosaist, this venerable method will not survive
or classes. The workers in the first grade, the stress of modern conditions, and that the
work on those parts of a mosaic which require existing wave of opinion in its favour will, after
the most careful treatment, such as the face, a few costly experiments, subside.
hands and feet of a figure; those in the second la expressing this opinion, I do not forget
grade, work on ornaments and drapery; those the important work recently executed in the
in the third grade have given to them the choir of St. Paul's Cathedral, but in that case
execution of simple backgrounds, and so onthe work was carried out under all the condi.
each man being given that work which he is tions necessary for the successful application
best fitted to perform. of the method ; there was no want of money,
When a cartoon is brought into the studio it no limitation as to time, and the mosaists were
is traced and reversed on coarse brown paper. under the direct control of Sir William Rich
This reversed tracing is then cut up into pieces mord, who designed the cartoons. It would be
of irregular shape, and these pieces are disquite out of place here to criticise the result,
tributed among the various grades of workers. but it would be interesting to know the cost,
The cartoon is then hung up so that it may be from first to last, of each square foot of mosaic
seen by all, and the workers, being comfort. executed, including the fees paid to the distin
ably seated at their desks with a small anvil, a guished artist who superintended the work.
small hammer, some paste and the enamels I now come to the New Nethod. The
they will require by their side, the work begins. Venetian mosaists having decided to abandon
Each worker having carefully noted the colours the application of the old method to the
and the size and shape of the tesseræ required construction of decorative mosaics, adopted,
for his part of the cartoon, proceeds to cut his developed, and, after many costly experiments,
enamels accordingly, and to place them with brought to perfection the method which has
their proper faces downwards on to the plain become associated with their name and which
tracing before him, and to attach them thereto they have applied to nearly all the 'large deco
with common paste. rative works executed by them during the past
With the exception of the tesseræ used for 30 years. This method, or process, was ex
metal backgrounds (to which I shall refer plained by the late Sir Austen Henry Layard
later on), each tessera is the same in colour in the following passage of a paper read by
throughout, and all the tesseræ are of equal him at a meeting of the Royal Institute of
thickness, and are evenly shaped from top to British Architects :
bottom. When, therefore, they are placed on “The necessity of working on the spot is now the paper “face downwards," there remains avoided by an ingenious process, which, however, is
under the eye of the worker the exact counteronly applicable to decorative mosaic, and cannot be
part of the work he has executed—the design nsed when much delicacy of execution and extreme
being carried right through the tesseræ-and nicety in the gradation of tints are required. The
he is thus able to judge of the effect of his workmen reverse the cartoon, and place the tesseræ
work, and to make any necessary alterations with their proper faces downwards. The tessera
or corrections as it proceeds. are fastened with common paste to sheets of coarse brown paper, on which the cartoon is traced. When
Metal backgrounds sometimes require a the work is finished it has only to be fixed with
slightly different treatment. Owing to the cement upon the wall destined to receive it, and the
construction of “metal cakes,” the metal is brown paper is then removed from the face of it. only visible from the front or face of the mosaic, This process requires considerable skill and practice, | All that the worker can see when he has placed especially when figures have to be executed, but is the metal tesseræ face downwards on the paper perfectly successful. Thus the decoration of any | is the glass by which the metal is backed. In
mosaic. The cartoon is therefore divided into some slight defect in the enamel, so slight as smaller pieces than usual, and a larger number to be unobservable to the worker when placing of workers are employed on the work; and the tesseræ. Again, enamels which in one by this means, without hurry or injury, the light appear to match exactly the colours of mosaic is executed within the time allowed. | the cartoon, when seen in another light produce Under the old method an expeditious treatment | a different effect. Now, here again we have is not possible.
an advantage over the older method, for the It may seem at first sight as though the mosaic can be viewed at any angle of light employment of many workers on one design while the work is in progress and before the would produce inequalities in the workmanship tesseræ are placed on the wall; and any which would mar the harmony of the work ; | defective parts can he removed with ease and but it must be borne in mind that the superin. I at little cost
tending artist controls the whole work and When all the tracings forming the cartoon imposes his interpretation of the cartoon on all have been covered with enamel they are col. the workers. The slight variations in style lected and placed in a frame, so that the whole which he would permit would only tend to add design now translated into glass, comes before an interest to the mosaic without in any way the artist and workers and is again critically disturbing the harmonious blending of its examined in various lights. In this final parts.
examination the artist has the assistance Practical mosaists know well how difficult it of all those who have been engaged on the is to avoid the intrusion of bits of enamel, of work, an assistance which is of great value the same colour and possibly taken from the to him, for the eyes of the workers, trained by same cake, which, when seen in a particular long experience in the practice of their art, are light or at a certain distance convey one tint, able to detect the least variations in colour, but in another light or at another distance and the chances of a defective tessera escaping convey a different tint ; this may be due to their notice are few indeed. When, therefore,
they and the artist agree that the colours of Mr. Walter Crane was right. The fact is the mosaic correctly interpret the colours of the placing of the tesseræ face downwards on the cartoon, and ful6l the conditions (if any) the paper, does not in any way affect the surimposed by the designer, it is passed, packed, face quality of the mosaic which is regulated and sent to its destination ready to be fixed. I at the time the tessere are being fixed upon
In recent times there has been in certain the wall. quarters some carping at this method; but the When the mosaic is brought to the wall only important objections and important only which is destined to receive it, the wall is preby reason of their wide-spread acceptance pared with cement, and the pieces into which are two :-(1.) That by this method the work. the mosaic has been divided are taken from men are working in the dark, so to speak; their cases, and the work of fixing begins. cannot see what they are doing, and are un. If one fixer only is working on a panel, about able therefore, to correct their work as it pro. | four feet of mosaic can be placed on the wall ceeds. (2.) That because the tesseræ are at a time. The tesseræ are pressed into the placed face downwards on to paper resting | cement, and after a few minutes the paper is on a flat surface, the surface of the mosaic damped off and the mosaic discovered. It is must necessarily be flat.
at this stage tliat the character of the surface The first objection has been disposed of in is determined. There is no need for hurry the description of the process already given, while the manipulation of the tesseræ is proand there remains nothing further to be added. I ceeding, as the cement used does not set firm
As regards the second objection, it is diffi. | for some hours after the paper has been recult to understand how the fallacy came to be moved ; and there is no fear cf the tesseræ sagpropagated and accepted by many as an article | ging, as they are. laid from the bottom and not of faith. Even the latest writer on mosaics, | from the top as in the old method. If, therefore, Mr. Lys Baldry, in his charming book on the designer is also a practical mosaist, and “Mural Decorations,' repeats it and con- wishes personally to undertake the work of demns the method on that ground. Some fixing, this method affords him facilities for months ago the Royal Institute of British | stamping the work, in its final stage, with his Architects held a meeting* to hear a paper iudividuality by giving to the tesseræ with his read on the practice of pictorial mosaics, and own hands that “ little push ” to which referthe particular objection under consideration | ence has already been made. was re-stated, with considerable assurance, by To facilitate fixing in localities where skilled the reader of the paper. Fortunately there fixers are not to be met with, mosaics intended was present at the meeting the eminent artist, | to cover flat surfaces are sometimes set in Mr. Walter Crane, whose wide experience in cement before they leave the studio. The every branch of decorative art had brought process is as follows:-A bed of cement about him into contact with mosaics executed by half-an-inch thick is laid upon a smooth this method. He took exception to the state wooden surface and before the cement has set ment, though seeming somewhat mystified an iron frame of ingenious construction (the by the assertion of his friends which contra
| invention of a Venetian) is pressed into it. dicted his own experience. in experience.
Referring to cer
Referring to cer. | This is then covered with an upper laver of tain mosaics which had been executed from cement prepared to receive the tesseræ which his cartoons by this method, he said :
are placed upon it in the same manner as, by
this method, they are placed upon the wall. “He was very much astonished at the facility with
When the work is completed its appearance is which his designs were reproduced.. ..The
that of a slab of marble, rimmed with iron and tessera were given with the utmost exactitude, and
covered on one side with mosaics. It can then the matching of the colours, allowing for difference in translation of the dead colour of the cartoon into the
be placed in position by any competent brilliant colours of the glass mosaic, was simply extra
mason, and for that reason this special conordinary; and even when designs were worked on
struction is suitable for mosaics intended for this method he believed they had some method of
India or the Colonies. The colossal figure of giving a little push to the tesseræ, in parts, to get Minerva in the Library of Congress at Washmore variation of facet in the gold of the back. ington was so constructed, and the result is ground."
perfectly satisfactory. Large panels are
divided into sections, to facilitate packing, and * 18th November, 1901, proceedings reported in Journal of
these sections (like the sections into which the the Institute.
cartoons are divided) are irregular in shape.