ORIGINS OF COSMATI MOSAICS
Ancient mosaic art dates back to at least 250CE and flourished in Roman and Byzantine times until modern days. In the 4th-11th century A.D., laying out marbles of different sizes, shapes, and colours to show form and depth created these geometric patterns. This Byzantine method was further developed in Italy from the 11th century onwards by using additional materials to create more complex design patterns. This latter technique was formed of elaborate inlays of small triangles and rectangles of coloured stones and glass mosaics set into stone matrices or encrusted upon stone surfaces.
It was referred to as "cosmati" or "Cosmatesque", named after a Roman family, seven of whom, from Lorenzo to Jacopo, from Deodato to Giovanni, were skilful architects, sculptors, and decorators of geometric mosaics. Their mastery has been handed down in Rome for four generations through the 12th -13th centuries and, until now, fascinates eyes and captures emotions. In the Middle Ages, their craft was beyond the boundaries of Rome, stretching as far as the High altar of London's Westminster Abbey, on which no less than 38 kings and queens have been crowned.