Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mosaic of the Three Wise Men - Ravenna and Constantinople Versions

Holiday season is approaching.

Is "giving" a lot wiser than receiving?
Is the act of giving pure and out of love, or just because we have to buy presents?

Just wondering....

This post is dedicated to two mosaic masterpieces.

Wise men mosaic in two versions. Ravenna and Constantinople respectively.

The first mosaic, stunning, eye catching, abundant with colours, featuring rich and intricate costumes, has balance and focuses on the wise men and their gifts. The movement is linear. There is the element of nature too and an almost tangible seducing aroma of the East.

The second mosaic has soft colours, upward movement, using few colours with virtuosity. It's dynamic. The men are in communication between each other and the "mystic" cloud on which they ride, if I "read" the picture properly, could well symbolise their worthy cause and destination.

The exotic elements in the Ravenna version show a desire to "depict" those things that were "far away" (the land where Christ was born). It is a very humble assumption based on observation that the enticing perfumes and glittering cases in the hands of the Ravenna wise men are something that was regarded "exotic" for those who lived in the West.
Two different "schools", two different "mentalities" on a common theme.

A great way to appreciate not only mosaic art but also understand the circumstances and social - geographical context of the work in question.

It is my wish to be able to produce a manual - guide on how to make mosaics via the learning from ancient mosaic masterpieces but I think it will be a far cry from my tangible non-exotic reality.


  1. Are you kidding? I am very jealous that you live in Italy.. I went there this past summer and loved it!! Also, this manual/guide you are planning sounds amazing.. do make it!


  2. I love reading your insightful observations. Yesterday I was editing a book that spoke about the importance of depicting the things you know, but I also like how you speak about depicting the exotic. (I have done this a lot in my own works too).

    I am interested in ancient mosaics too and would love to help if you go ahead with your idea. My email address is :

    PS. In the Ravenna mosaic, I've always loved the stockings on the man on the right. They would look at home on any fashion show today!


  3. Let me be the first one to buy a copy of your book!

  4. Υπέροχα αριστουργήματα και τα δύο , η κάθε σχολή έχει την δική της ξεχωριστή τεχνική . Βλέπω αρχίσαμε να μπαίνουμε στο κλίμα των Χριστουγέννων , η ανάρτηση σου σήμερα μας το θυμίζει... καλημέρα και καλή συνέχεια !!!

  5. Eric, I am very flattered by what you said.

    Art Trav.Thank you so much for your interest in my blog. Always a pleasure to read your kind comments.

    Mindful Musings. Thank you so much! Do you have any experience in publishing?

    Leah, thank you. Believe me LA is better. More things to do if you have passion for things, the mentality here does not nurture moving forward and you do not have many options if you are into art. Where approx.are you based in LA?

  6. This is such an interesting post. I love the Wise Men from Ravenna. The detail in the clothing is exquisite. However, they are both beautiful works of art. How lucky you are that you live in Italy, and you are surrounded by such history and beauty. My family is from Italy (Consenza and Sicily to be exact) so Italy's always in my heart. Thanks for coming by my blog and leaving a comment. Take care.

  7. Beautiful post as always!

    I love the Ravenna mosaic, the colors, the patterns, must be great to see it in person!

    And if your wished manual becomes as rich as your blog it will be a success!
    I always learn something from your posts! :)

  8. These are gorgeous. So much depth and history. I love all of them!


Your comments are more than welcome so feel free to add your own tessera to the mosaic here!
Thank you.