Marble in Architecture – Understanding The Influence of Different Periods


Marble has been used by Europeans since centuries. The stone’s shine and surface gives it a visual texture, while its ability to be moulded makes it very popular in developing sculptural and architectural styles that cross trends and cultural influences. Perhaps the history of marble is older than us, yet a few remain documented as statues and symbols that have endured time. If only they could speak, they would tell us what happened then. Even so, their style influences do give us a glimpse as to the circumstances and period they were crafted in.

European marble and architecture has changed and transformed through the years. It started out elaborate and decorative and has now become very functional with minimal aesthetics. Here’s how its changed through the years;

CLASSICAL PERIOD – The classical period of marble architecture spanned from 450BC to 400BC. The Greeks were the foremost artists of the time, creating elaborate and complex reliefs in marble with detailed work installed in prominent spaces, especially around the exterior of buildings. Columns were the niche of their architectural designs and many different columns with etchings, groovings, and exquisite detailing were developed during this time. European sculpture and styles were heavily influenced by this classical period. The Romans continued the Greek style in many of their work thereafter.

The Colosseum, Rome

GOTHIC PERIOD – Throughout the medieval ages, Gothic architectural elements dominated marble across Western Europe. Marbles and other visually appealing stones were used to create universities, cathedrals and castles. Pointed arches, spires, ribbed arches and gargoyles were all symbolic of gothic elements that sustained centuries and can be found peppering the Italian and European skyline even today. The Pisa Baptistry is an excellent example of marble architecture, with intricate door and column surrounds that were highly valued in these places.

                                             Pisa Baptistry of St.John, Italy


RENAISSANCE PERIOD – The renaissance period was punctuated by the return of classical architectural elements and sculptural styles. Domes, high arches and elaborate classical columns made their reappearance. The Renaissance period truly differentiated artists who used marble as a canvas to showcase their art. Michaelangelo and Donatello worked on biblical and religious marble sculptures for churches throughout Venice and Rome with the Sistine Chapel being the most prominent symbol of this period.

                                                                       Sistine Chapel, Rome

BAROQUE & ROCOCO PERIOD – This movement took over the 17th & early 18th century. More detailing and additional flourishes went into marble cathedrals, sculptures and religious iconisms. Intricate fireplaces, staircases, fountains and public seating in marble and other stone went into European palaces, public and religious places. France’s Palace of Versailles and Russia’s Peterhof Palace have the most notable influences of this period.

                                      St Petersberg Peterhof Palace, Russia


MODERN PERIOD – Many of European and Italian styles with marble are still replicated across our architecture today, although its become more minimalist and defined by function. Marble from across the world can be used for several different architecture and sculpture forms, but in order to do that knowing its features and attributes is important. This is where we at Millenium Marbles come in to suggest the best marble for different parts of your home.

                                                                        Modern Marble Building

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