If you have visited Rome, or the surrounding Latium (Lazio region) you have, no doubt, seen floors like these. So striking - hard not to notice - and the intricacies, craftsmanship and colours are amazing. The Cosmati were a Roman family, spanning four generations between the 12th & 13th c. AD, of sculptors, architects and workers in decorative geometric mosaic. The designs are to be found in churches, mostly on the floors but also on pulpits, doors, columns, tombs and other areas.
Pictured are some fine examples of this type of flooring in Rome and Lazio. As you can see the tiny mosaic pieces of coloured stone and glass are triangular, rectangular and rhomboid in shape - some inlaid with gold. One can notice the Byzantine and Islamic influences in the style of the work, coming down through Ravenna, and up through Sicily.
The main locations in Rome are:
Some of the best examples outside of Rome in Lazio are:
Curious note: Westminster Abbey has two Cosmatesque pavements, created during the same period - one is set before the High Alter and the other is in the Sanctuary associated with the Shrine of Edward the Confessor.
Below are examples photographed from around Rome and the Lazio region.
THIS IS A UNIQUE REPRESENTATION OF THE UNIVERSAL JUDGEMENT.
Who could have known it was hidden away inside an old medieval cathedral in Sermoneta. Sadly the entire piece is not in tact as it has suffered damage over the years and as far as we know there are no plans to carry our restoration work.
Usually angels are only pictured with trumpets and violins so the unusual aspect of this painting is that there is an angel with a kind of bagpipe (left) used by shepherds and it is thought that the artist who painted it wanted to pay homage to local shepherds.
The church was built in the 12th century probably on the ruins of a temple of the goddess Cybele (a divinity from the East corresponding to Mother Earth).
In the 13th c. it was completely restructed in the Gothic style by Cistercian monks of Fossanova. There is a bell tower 24mtrs high dating to the 12th c.
Important aspects inside are the Madonna degli Angeli (Virgin Mary embracing Sermoneta), painted in 1452 (tempera on wood with gold leaf) by Benozzo Gozzoli.
The Universal Judgement dates to the end of the 15th century and was only discovered in 1964 (painted by Desiderio da Subiaco who was court painter of the Caetani family of Sermoneta).
The marble lions (one pictured) and the marble chair (pictured) were pagan and would have belonged to the ancient temple of Cybele.
The small round chapel on the right as you face the altar is the Cappella SS. Rosario, with frescoed cupola and walls with scenes from the Old Testament (painted by Giovanni Domenico Fiorentini circa 18th c.) and a delightful painting of St. Francis welcoming you in.
As we were here just before Christmas there were two lovely nativities.