Dr David Neal

Restoration of the Cosmati Pavement

8 November - 18 December

The Cosmati Mosaics. Dr. David S. Neal

The Cosmati Pavement is situated in front of the High Altar of Westminster Abbey and was originally constructed in 1268 by specialist Italian mosaicists of the Cosmati family from Rome during the reign of Henry lll.

It is remarkable that the pavement has not been seen at coronations for over 150 years, having been protected by carpets.

The mosaic has recently undergone a major cleaning and conservation programme and was re-dedicated by the Dean at a service in 2010.

The artist, Dr. David Neal, was a senior archaeologist with English Heritage and is an expert in Roman mosaics and the excavation of Roman villas.

His survey, a highly complex and skilled operation, took almost four years to complete. Every single tessera was examined. The working drawings were traced onto high quality watercolour paper before background colour washes were applied. The arduous task of painting the individual tesserae, aided by hundreds of photographs, followed. Once painted they were textured to show their characteristic marbling. Finally, numerous coats of varnish were applied to produce a shiny quality to reflect the appearance of the marble and glass tesserae.

We are very privileged to be showing these highly detailed and intricate paintings in the Gallery throughout November and December; it is one of the few medieval Cosmati floor mosaics to have survived.