Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Westminster Abbey high altar mosaic

When I visited London last spring, the cosmati mosaics at the high altar at Westminster Abbey were being painstakingly refurbished for the upcoming wedding of Kate and William. It was wonderful to be able to just stand their and take them in. The designs were intriguing and I would loved to have taken dozens of pictures, but no photography was allowed. I wished I could walk onto them and see them in more detail, especially those in the back, or have a bird’s eye view of the whole thing. But what I saw was wonderful and I looked as much as I could so I’d remember.

Upon my return I looked for information on the mosaics. Westminster Abbey's site has some information, here, here and here. Plus, I found two books had been written on them. One is in our library and I’ll take it out eventually. I ordered the other Patterns of Thought: The Hidden meaning of the Great Pavement of Westminster Abbey by Richard Foster through Interlibrary Loan.

I’ve just begun reading and realized some of what caught my eye: “Whereas mosaic designs are made up of tesserae all of the same size and same, roughly square, shape, cosmati designs are composed of stones of different sizes cut to particular shapes to fit the pattern, rather like patchwork.” (p.2)

I’ve also already learned what “cosmati” means: it is a name derived from Cosmatus, the paternal name of one of the leading families of these Italian craftsmen. (also p. 2)It would have been brilliant when new.

I've also learned from reading that there is a Latin inscription on the floor that refers the the end of the world and perhaps describes the cosmos. There is so much cool stuff to learn!

1 comment:

rahere said...

The ancestry is:
Lausanne Cathedral Rose Window
Boniface Clutinckx, Bishop of Lausanne
Konrad von Urach, Head of the Cistercians, protector of Hildegard of Bingen.

Also look to the Hagia Sophia omphalion