The Alexander Mosaic

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The Alexander Mosaic
The Basics
- 2nd Cent BC
- Adapted from earlier
painting?
- Place – House of the Faun,
on floor of exedra on north
side of first peristyle.
- 3.20 by 5.50m
Technique – Opus
verniculatum. Tesserae
very small. Curve and wind
around
Content
Alexander on
horseback,
Bucephalus,
spearing an
enemy
Battle of Issus 333
BC, or Gaugamela
in 331 BC
Persian King, Darius
III, fleeing on chariot
Style
Sense of depth through overlapping
and three quarter views
More like a painting
than a mosaic.
Much more three
dimensional than
normal mosaic.
Realistic depiction
of scene by using:
Shading
Foreshortening – Horses proportions correctly
rendered in relation to the angle from which we
see it, so that the part of the animal that is further
away is shortened
Shadowing – light
from left
Features linking to third or fourth century
BC



Limitation of colours to
white, yellow, red and black,
the ‘four colour’ technique
adopted by fourth and fifth
century BC Greek painters
Scarcity of landscape
features (only a tree and
rocks)
Shallow depth of field in
scene, any depth being
conveyed by foreshortening
and overlapping

Composition







Persian King the key figure
He is above the rest, while Alexander
slightly lower, is still above figures on
his side
Darius arm outstretched and Alex
spear raised
Linked by gesture and intensity of stare
Alexander given a wild eyed intensity
Darius portrayed sympathetically looks in dismay
Rest of action is a jumble of soldiers,
weapons and horses, conveying chaos
and confusion of battle
Focus Greek inspired art, human
participants focus
Question

In what ways is a sense of confusion or
chaos depicted?
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