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Second Part.



68. The modern workers in Mosaic use, at present, the black Marble of Farran, of Labal, the deep black of Argueil, of Pouilly, and of St. Cyr, in the suburbs of Lyon.

For blended tints, the ancient mosaists employed the Marbles of Florence, which are found near the Arno, and which, in general, are of an olive, dead leaf color, umber and wood shades; they also used differently tinted flints, reddish violet, and brown.

It must be admitted that in lapidary paintings, above all, in portraits, nothing can better render the mellowness and transparency of reflex in the shade which oil paintings give us, particularly when the brilliancy is enhanced by the glow of the vitrified pastes. M. Belloni has profited by these resources so well in his Mosaic of the Car of Victory, that one must be forewarned, to know that it is a lapidary painting.

The Mosaics of the ancients are less fine and less finished than those of the moderns, but they are distinguished by a happy mixture of colors, a spirit and design which are wanting in the latter. They cut their Marbles in strips to form their cubes, and gave them the shape of dice. When prepared, they probably placed each color in a compartment, separately, as we now do.

The ancients, to collect their cubes, employed a mastic composed of lime, the dust of marble, and curdled milk or skimmed cheese, the sediment of which would form the line of the rich color given by the milk. M. Ritter, in his Collection of Swiss Antiquities, observes that the cement of the cubes of an Avenchon Mosaic is composed of a paste of pulverized yellow stone and linseed oil. To this, litharge may also be added.

When the mastic is very dry, rub it and polish it as usual, taking care to move the instrument or cushion evenly, so as not to injure the cubes, which are still soft, or the mastic, which has not yet acquired its full degree of solidity. The white Marbles, in particular, are softer than the others, and more apt to strike off.

After a little time, warm the Mosaic a little to free it from all moisture, and then finish by rubbing the whole with a cushion of cotton or soft wool, slightly moistened with linseed oil.

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