Romancing the Stone
“High in the Apuan Alps of Tuscany sits a majestic 5,213-foot mountain called Monte Altissimo. In his pursuit of the finest marble for his sculptures, the Italian artist Michelangelo climbed Monte Altissimo in 1517. There, he found “the marble of his dreams”. It was, the Renaissance master wrote, ‘of compact grain, homogeneous, crystalline, reminiscent of sugar.’” (Taylor, 2017, p. 1)
Michelangelo’s David remains one of the greatest masterpieces ever created by mankind. Constructed using a single block of Statuario Carrara marble, the statue of David and Michelangelo’s use of this fine marble, continue to inspire artists around the world – and rightfully so.
White Carrara marble is characteristically homogenous. This beautiful medium features a bright white to grey ground color, luminous grains, and subtle yet soft blue-grey veining. Marble is truly a noble material, prized for its beauty, durability, and lustrous finish.
According to Earth Observatory, “marble’s origins lie in marine organisms that leave behind their calcite-rich shells when they die. As water bodies evaporate, these deposited remains form limestone. If the limestone gets buried under multi-ton layers of rock, the intense pressure and heat cause it to metamorphose into marble. Marble formed from the purest limestone is the white marble characteristic of Carrara.” (NASA Earth Observatory, 2016) It is this detailed chemical process that gives Carrara marble its “waxy” finish – a prized aesthetic among sculptors who wish to mimic a human likeness.
While we understand the composition of Carrara marble and where it hails, its raw physical form and unparalleled beauty remain mysterious in a way that we can’t put our finger on. These incredible slabs of rock were formed to create beautiful historic architecture and sculptures that even then, a genius like Michelangelo couldn’t have foreseen. In present-day art and architecture, Carrara marble is used to evoke feelings of calming luxury. Its grand beauty and regal status remain unsurpassed, and it has earned a prestigious reputation for its ageless beauty and elegance.
Statuary Carrara marble remains the rarest and most valuable marble in the world, known for its bright, semi-translucent white background and distinctive feathery markings. Its aesthetic quality, character, and finish have made this noble medium among the most sought-after material for artists, sculptors, and architects alike.
Taylor, A. (2017, August 03). The Marble of Michelangelo’s Dreams. Retrieved September 1, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/08/the-marble-of-michelangelos-dreams/535836/
MarmiRossi (n.d.). The Carrara Marble: a white marble with history [Blog Post] Retrieved September 4, 2018, from http://www.marmirossi.com/en/news/focus-materials/the-carrara-marble-a-white-marble-with-history
Carrara Marble Quarries. (2006, September 17). Retrieved September 4, 2018, from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/6936/carrara-marble-quarries
Perales, G. (2017, July 20). A Brief History of the Beautiful Carrara Marble. Retrieved September 4, 2018, from https://marble.com/articles/a-brief-history-of-the-beautiful-carrara-marble-