Director of the mosaic studio in the Fabbrica di San Pietro demonstrating the enduring art technique of mosaic to a family from Buffalo. The family hopes to purchase a masterpiece from the studio to donate to their local parish. The studio is currently working on a tile masterpiece for a church in Fresno, California.
Deeply intertwined with the history of the Vatican and the construction of St. Peter's Basilica is the history of an enigmatic mosaic workshop inside Vatican City. The foundation of this small laboratory, where artists in white tunics chisel and smolder tiles to make long lasting art pieces began with the construction of the new Basilica and the decision to decorate the church interior with art pieces that had an unalterable quality and eternal life. In the 1600's these artists worked to cover the church in more than 100,000 square feet of tile work meant to duplicate famous painting masterpieces. Now the mosaic studio sells precious "paintings in mosaic" to the public created with the same technique established in the studio hundreds of years ago. More importantly they make mosaics for the Pope to present as diplomatic gifts.
On a rare visit with clients to explore the workshop and select doubtlessly a precious heirloom for my clients we saw the studio artists at work and their gallery space. We even saw the Pope Francis pass by in the backseat of a 2001 Ford Focus.
I recently contributed a guest blog entry about visiting the behind-the-scenes Vatican mosaic studio on author Mary Jane Cryan's website that you can reference here: