Master of Arts (MA)



Document Type



Mosaic art gives the appearance of immutability and endurance. The materials and designs often echo or emphasize the architectural forms upon which they are fixed. Mosaics have an aura of permanence that is lacking in drawings, paintings, and frescoes. However, these same materials that present an appearance of solid form are mere fragments of stone or glass set into a base of concrete. As an art dependent on architecture, they are subject to the vicissitudes of time and weather. In the nineteenth century, human intervention in the form of invasive and unenlightened restoration practices arguably halted the deterioration of important mosaics. The result, however, was often irreversible changes to the iconography of the images and to the period style of the original. This paper discusses the church of San Michele in Africisco, Ravenna, highlighting its cultural importance as a sixth-century Byzantine monument. The recounting of its history, followed by two case studies of mosaics workshops in Venice, explain common restorations practices for buildings and their mosaics in the nineteenth century. At that time, foreign interests involved with political and social movements in Germany and England, recognized the crucial need for conservation of Byzantine heritage represented by mosaics and pressed for the establishment of more strenuous regulation and preservation.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Savage, Matthew