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First Part.



Marble, according to most authorities, is an extremely hard species of rock, bearing the name of the country in which are the quarries where it is obtained; sometimes, also, of the mountains from whence it is taken; as the Vosgean and Pyrenean Marbles.-Marble is antique or modern.

The antique Marbles comprise those of which the quarries have been exhausted, and which are only known to us through the works of the ancients.

The modern Marbles are those which we now use, and the quarries of which are still in existence. It is generally used for easings or inlaying; rarely in the block on account of its high price, unless for vases, statues, columns and other works of this kind. Many fine examples exist of interior and exterior decoration.

Although the varieties of Marble are infinite, they are reduced to two species, the veined and the Breccian, the latter being simply a mass of small stones firmly knit together in such a manner, that, when broken, they form angles, whence their name.


§ 13. The antique Marble, the quarries of which were in Greece, and from which were the beautiful statues still existing in Italy, is absolutely unknown at present. In its stead we use that of Carrara.

The Lapis is regarded as the finest of the antique Marbles. It is of deep blue color, stained with a clearer sky blue, and intermixed with veins of gold. On account of its rarity, this was only used for inlaying; several specimens of it in Mosaic may still be seen in slabs in castles.

§ 14. Porphyry passes for the hardest of the antique Marbles, and, after the Lapis, one of the finest; it was formerly brought from Numidia in Africa, for which reason it was called by the ancients the Numidian Lapis. It is red, green, and grey. The red porphyry is very hard, of a deep red color, approaching wine lees, and studded with small white spots. It is very susceptible of polish. The largest specimen of it in France is the laver of king Dagobert. The finest is that of the deepest red, with the whitest and smallest spots. The green porphyry, which is much rare, has the same hardness. It is mixed with small green spots and grey points. A few slabs and vases of it still exist. The grey porphyry is spotted with black, and is much softer.

(missing text) thus called by the ancients from the resemblance of its color to that of the serpent, was formerly obtained from the Egyptian quarries. This Marble possesses much of the hardness of porphyry. Its color is of a greenish brown, mixed with a few square and round pale green spots and yellow veins. Its rarity caused it only to be used in Mosaic.


§ 15. Alabaster is a species of Marble either white and transparent, or variegated with several colors, and is taken from the Alps and the Pyrenees. It is very soft when first taken from the quarry, but hardens much on exposure to the air. There are several varieties-the white, the variegated, the montahuto, the violet, and the roquebrue. The white alabaster is used for vases, statues, and other objects of a medium size. The variegated is divided into three kinds: the Oriental, the Floral, and the Agate. There are two varieties of the Oriental; the first in the form of an Agate, the second mixed with red, blue, yellow, and white veins. The Floral alabaster is of two kinds: one spotted with various colors resembling flowers, whence its name--the other, veined like the Agate cold and transparent. The Agate alabaster is similar to the Oriental, but has paler colors. The alabaster of Montahuto is very soft, yet harder than the German Agate, which it strongly resembles.-The ground is brown, traversed by grey veins, some what in the style of geographical charts.


§ 16. Granite, thus called because marked with small dots formed of several grains of condensed gravel, is very hard, and takes polish badly. It is evident that no other Marble was used by the ancients in large quantities, since most of the edifices of Rome, even to the dwellings of private citizens, were decorated with it. Doubtless this Marble was abundant, from the numerous shafts of columns which even now serve as boundaries in every quarter of the city. There are many varieties; the Italian, the Egyptian, and that of Dauphiny-the green, and the violet. The Egyptian granite, known as the Thebaïcum marmor, and taken from the Desert of Thebaïd, has a dirty white ground, mixed with small grey and greenish spots, and is almost as hard as porphyry. The granite of Dauphiny, found on the banks of the Rhone, near the mouth of the Iser, is very ancient, as appears from some columns which are in Provence. The green granite is a kind of Serpentine, or antique green, mixed with little green and white spots; several columns of this kind of marble are to be seen at Rome. The violet granite, brought from the Egyptian quarries, is dotted with small spots of white and violet.-The most of the antique obelisks of Rome are of this Marble, such as that of Saint Peter of the Vatican, Saint John of Latran, the People's Gate, and others.

§ 17. The Marble of Jasper is of a greenish color, with small red spots. There is another antique jasper, which is black and white, with small spots. This is very rare.

The green antique Marble is also very rare. Its color is a mixture of grass and dark green, with spots of different form and size.

The black and white Marbles, the quarries of which are lost, are made up of slabs of purest white and the deepest black.

The little antique Marble is of this last variety, but more covered with small veins, resembling the Barbançon Marble.

§ 18. The Brocatello Marble was formerly found near Adrianople Its color is a mixture of grey, red, light, yellow, and dove tints.

The African Marble is spotted with reddish brown, mingled with veins of a dirty white and flesh color, with a few threads of deep green.

The black antique Marble was of two kinds; one called marmor lucullum, brought from Greece, was very soft. It was of this Marble that Marcus Seaurus caused the columns, thirty-eight feet in height, with which his palace was decorated, to be sculptured.

The yellow Marble has two varieties. One, called Sienna yellow, of a yellowish dove color, without veins, and very rare, and was only used for Mosaic work in panels; the other, called golden, and yellower than the first, is that to which Pausanius gave the name of marmor croceum, because of its saffron color. It was found near Macedonia.

§ 19. The Lumachella marble, thus called because it is a mixture of white, grey, and black spots, in the form of snail-shaped shells, is very rare, the quarries being lost.

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