Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones

Class I
Marbles (Marmi)

[p11] The word 'lapis' for Latin speakers was generic, as the word 'stone' is for us, and by it they were indicating those solid minerals impervious to water and not among the bitumens, sands, or metals. Later they used to indicate by 'marmora' all decorative and ornamental stones which would take a fine polish when cut, inferring the etymology of this name from 'μαρμαίρον' which means 'to shine' in the Greek language. From this basic premise they did not distinguish any of the materials, and they indiscriminately called 'marbles' the calcareous earths, serpentines, gypsums, basalts, granites, porphyries, jaspers, and any other stone, as often as they did the calcareous rocks. Finally, mineralogists recognise as marbles only those stones composed of calcium carbonate which are susceptible to taking a polish.

[p12] I warn readers that when referring to the various kinds of marble I shall not repeat that each one is formed of the same substance, that they are soft to cut, that when struck by steel they do not give off sparks, and that their colours are fortuitous and generally speaking products of the combination of metallic substances.

Geologists today restrict the term 'marble' to calcareous rocks which have undergone complete recrystallisation through the agents of heat and/or pressure, a process known as metamorphism. Corsi's interpretation of marble as being any calcareous stone that will take a polish accords with that of the modern stone trade. In practice, limestones undergo varying degrees of alteration, and even the effects of deep burial can result in changes which help cement grains together to make a more durable rock, better suited to polishing for decorative purposes. Corsi's 'marbles' encompass limestones which show various degrees of alteration up to complete metamorphism into marbles.

Section I
Monochrome marbles (Marmi unicolori)

Monochrome marbles are looked upon as the easiest to recognise, as much because of their unity of tint as because of their regularity of formation, and therefore I begin the description with them, keeping as methodical an order as possible.

Species I
Statuary marbles Marmi statuari


The ancients preferred white marble for the sculpting of statues, busts and herms, as well as for the relief carving of architectural embellishments, for facings on buildings, and for mortuary urns. For architectural features Carrara marble, then called Lunense, was most commonly employed in Rome as the stretch of water was short, and it used to be transported at very moderate cost. For the sculpting of statues, on the other hand, use was usually made of Greek marbles or those from the vicinity of Greece, though the carving may have been executed in Rome. When discussing these marbles only the different degrees of whiteness and the varieties of grain and texture can be observed. So that it may be possible for each marble among the examples in the collection, to be seen at their best in the public museums I shall mention the most famous statues that are made of each one.

The provenances for white marbles suggested by Corsi are not always reliable. The traditional petrographic study of grain and texture to which Corsi refers can indicate possible provenances, but nowadays this is augmented by a combination of techniques, for example trace element and isotopic analyses, which together enable scientists to pinpoint the quarry location with rather greater certainty.



1. (14.1) Marmo greco duro. Marmor Parium. Strabo 1 reports that Parian marble, so very well known among the ancient authors, was taken from the island of Paros in the Greek Archipelago, and precisely from monte Marpesso noted in the verses of Virgil. Generally it is believed that is would have been of a very fine grain, but on the contrary it is formed of large, shiny scales. Pliny 2 wrote that according to Varro, Parian marble was called 'Lychnite', because as the seams were underground it used to be quarried by the light of oil-lamps. While I was talking about this passage in Pliny with the English gentleman Mr Dodwell 3 he kindly gave me his own admirable publication about his tour through Greece, in which he explains thus: 'The Parian marble quarries, as I have observed in the field, were never subterranean but cut down the side of a mountain and open to the glare of day; the word “lychnites” was given to the marble on account[p15] of its large, shining crystals and semi-transparent quality. Parian marble is mistaken for Pentelic nowadays, and vice versa.' Parian marble is generally gleaming white and rather hard to cut. The statue of the Minerva Medica in the Braccio Nuovo of the Vatican Museum is of Parian marble. (Rare).

Marpesia, now known as Marpissa, is north-east of Paros town (Parika). Corsi did not provide more than a general reference to Virgil, perhaps feeling sure that any reader of his work, being well-educated, would be familiar with it. There are at least two references to Parian marble in the Aeneid.

Edward Dodwell was an extensive traveller in Greece, who took a Roman artist, Pomardi, with him. His writings are somewhat reminiscent of Pausanias's Guide to Greece of c. AD150. He had settled and married in Rome, and was a fellow collector of samples of marble; of which 247, now in the Museo di Geologia, at the Università di Roma La Sapienza, are ancient stones i . He mistook absence of evidence for evidence of absence with regard to the Parian quarries; the finest quality, almost translucent, marble has been extracted from underground quarries since Roman times.

The name Greco duro refers to dolomite marble from Cape Vathy, Thassos, and as Corsi's specimen is dolomite marble, it most probably does indeed come from Thasos rather than Paros.

i. Bunsen (1837) 55-57

2. (15.2) Marmo grechetto duro. Marmor Porinum. The sample that I describe is of the same grain size, of the same hardness and of the same gleaming whiteness as Parian marble, except that this one is formed of scales that are a little thinner, and it is somewhat lighter in weight. It seems that this may be the marble 'Porino'. Pliny 4 who literally copied Theophrastus 5 says that marmo Porino, called thus on account of its lightness, 'is similar to Parian in colour and hardness'. Moreover, one should be aware that although Porino might resemble tufa in lightness, from which it takes its name, nonetheless it is compact and very suitable for sculpture. Plutarch 6 mentions a statue [p16] of a Silenus in marmo Porino; and in the Vatican Museum, of the same marble, is the famous so-called Belvedere Torso, a work of Apollonius the Athenian. (Rare).

'Poros lithos' was a term used in Antiquity to describe limestone, and today may include certain shelly sandstones. The term is not used by geologists, but sometimes others may refer to indeterminate stone as 'poros', especially that found in foundations of ancient buildings as at Epidauros i .

Corsi appears to have understood Theophrastus, who goes on to say that the Egyptians used it, according to the translation of Hill ii , 'in the partitions of their more elegant edifices'. Theophrastus is referring to high quality, white fine grained Tura limestone from quarries, deep, and possibly underground, on the eastern shore of the Nile south of Cairo 13-17 km from Giza. This formed the 'casing' or facing of the Great Pyramid, which was then highly polished to shine in the sun. At least since AD 1300 the stone was robbed and re-used, particularly in mosques and Arab fortresses iii , iv .

The tufa to which Corsi refers, is porous travertine; not a particularly compact stone. There are many Greek statues of limestone as well as of statuary marble, as may be seen in the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

The Belvedere Torso is part of a statue of a naked male, perhaps Hercules. The statue was much admired by Michaelangelo and other artists of Renaissance and Baroque periods.

i. Borghini (1997) 29
ii. Theophrastus, tr. Hill (1746) 23
iii. Pliny, tr. Eichholz (1962) 92-93 comments
iv. Theophrastus, tr. Caley & Richards (1956) 73-74

3. (16.3) Marmo greco fino. Marmor Pentelicum. Gleaming white and of very fine grain is the marble known under the name of Pentelic (Pentilico) because, according to Pausanias 7 , it used to be quarried from Mount Pentelicus in Attica, near the city of Athens. Although it would often be used for columns and other architectural features, nonetheless it was also used to a great extent by the Greeks for statuary. Scopas and Praxiteles exercised their chisels a great deal on Pentelic 8 . In a letter to Pomponius Atticus, Cicero 9 thanks him for having sent many herms of this marble from Athens. There is a herm of the young Augustus in Pentelic in the Chiaramonti Museum in the Vatican. (Rare).

Both Scopas and Praxiteles were active between 370 - 330 BC, were often linked, and were much admired in Antiquity.

Cicero was writing to his friend Atticus, who like many Romans lived in Athens, asking him to arrange a shipment of statues and works of art that would be suitable for a lecture hall and colonnade. The idea of taking art works from an earlier culture had been in vogue long before the Grand Tour revived the practice among modern Europeans.

The 'Pentelic herms' had bronze heads. A herm is now generally understood to be a sculpted or cast head or bust mounted on a tapering square pillar: hence the modern practice of displaying busts on similarly shaped pedestals of decorative stone. Although the Herm of the Young Augustus was not considered of particular importance, it logically follows on from mention of the Attic herms.

The Chiaramonti Sculpture Museum founded by Pope Pius VII (1800-23) and named after his family, is in part of Bramante's 300m corridor of the Vatican Museums. Its displays include a 'fine collection of portrait busts of the Imperial period, sarcophagi , altars, and decorated architectural fragments' i , and was new when Corsi was forming his collection.

i. Claridge (2010) 473

4. (16.4) Marmo cipolla. Marmor Hymettium. Following Pentelic I consider it opportune to talk about Hymettian (Imettio) because the quarries of the two marbles are so near each other [p17] many writers confuse them and their names are even interchanged. Among the Italian stonecutters it is called 'marmo cipolla' because when it is worked, an odour not unlike that of an onion is emitted. Mineralogists call it marmo greco fetido as hydrogen sulphide gas is released by brisk rubbing. The grain is of large scales, the colour is of a greyish white, verging on greenish, with veins of dark grey. The ancients knew it as Hymettian (Imettio), because as Xenofonte 10 says it was quarried from Mount Hymettus (monte Imetto), now called Trelo, in the vicinity of Athens. Generally it was employed in works of architecture, as may be seen in the superb supporting columns of the nave in the church of S. Maria Maggiore, and in another twenty columns that ornament the church of S. Pietro in Vincoli. Horace 11 says that it used to be used for architraves. It is often used by sculptors, and the very learned Visconti 12 noted that the celebrated Vatican Nile might be of this marble. The mountains of Hymettus and Pentelicon are so near each other, and to [p18] the city of Athens, that Vitruvius 13 says they are to be seen adjacent to the first wall of the city. It is precisely this proximity that has led to some equivocation among writers about these different marbles; their characteristics have been interchanged, and it is said not infrequently that Pentelic corresponds to marmo cipolla. Every doubt is resolved, however, by the account of the traveller Olivier 14 who visited the quarries of the Pentelic and Hymettian marbles. Speaking of Hymettian he explains thus: 'After passing the schistous layer forming the base of the mountain, one comes upon a marble white in some places, and in others a bluish grey mixed with a white very inferior to that of Pentelic marble. The stratum of Pentelic marble that immediately overlies the schists is white and of very fine grain'. (Common).

Latin poets often symbolize opulent extravagance by marble columns, gold, ivory, and the best purple dye; here Horace i contrasts his own simple way of life with the indulgence in luxury of his contemporaries:
'Carven ivory have I none
No golden cornice in my dwelling shines;
Pillars choice of Libyan stone
Upbear no architrave from Attic mines'.

In ancient Greece, Hymettian was generally used for buildings, especially columns and architraves. Pentelic, whiter and easier to work, was more usually used for statues, for particularly important temples such as the Parthenon, and for architectural embellishment such as pedimental sculpture; as was Parian (see no. 1). Columns in Greek temples were always load-bearing; during the 7th century stone had taken the place of tree trunks, as in the temple of Hera at Olympia. Decorative effects were achieved by painting in bright colours, and sculpting pedimental sculptures, friezes and other architectural features such as those of the three orders of architecture.

Olivier ii is describing the view from the peak of Mount Hymettos across to Mount Pentelicus, and to other points of the compass; Corsi paraphrases a passage in Nibby's Del Foro Romano iii and gives a different impression.

Much typically grey striped marble used since the AD 130s in Rome was Proconnesian iv , quarried on the island of Marmara, between the Dardenelles and the Bosphorus. It is now widely thought that Hymettian was often wrongly ascribed, perhaps including the 36 columns in the nave of S. Maria Maggiore. Collectors, and indeed some geologists, seem to have been unaware of this well into the 20th century. Both Proconnesian and Hymettian marbles are also known as marmo cipolla, giving off a fetid onion smell when cut, as does the grey striped calcite marble from the Greek island of Thassos, which may look similar. Ravestein's catalogue of the collection of ancient marbles in the Musées royaux d'art et d'histoire de Bruxelles v has several samples called 'marmo greco fetido'.

The 'Vatican Nile', known as the 'Colossus of the Nile', is a 1st century A.D. Roman sculpture, and is still in the Braccio Nuovo.

i. Horace 2.18, tr. Conington (1882)
ii. Olivier (1807) v.6 451
iii. Nibby (1819) 24
iv. Claridge (2010) 41
v. Ravestein (1884) 625

5. (18.5) Marmo greco livido. Marmor Thasium. A statuary marble which, according to the authority of Herodotus 15 , was discovered by the Phoenicians on the Island of Thasos, in the Gulf of Contessa on the coast of Romania, [p19] and was called Thasian (Tasio) after the location of the quarry. Pliny 16 has not left us any historical account of this marble, except that it might be 'less bluish-grey than the Lesbian'. In fact, in the sample that I describe, the tint appears somewhat more bluish-grey than gleaming white and the grain is formed of medium-sized scales. This marble did not enjoy a great reputation at any time although Pausanias 17 assures us that the Athenians valued it and had two statues made of it in honour of Hadrian. The statue of Euripides in the Braccio Nuovo of the Vatican Museum, no. 81, is made of this marble. Belon 18 claims that the exterior of the pyramid of Caius Cestius might be of Thasian marble, but I think he was mistaken since it seems somewhat like Lunense. (Rare).

The island of Thasos (Thassos) lies in the Gulf of Strymonas, off the coast of the province of Kavala, East Macedonia and Thrace, in north-east mainland Greece. Thasian marble was exploited from at least the 7th century BC. Some is calcitic and may have grey streaks. The Romans quarried it extensively on the headland of Aliki. Dolomitic marble also occurs on the island and was quarried at Cape Vathy in large quantities. Statues of dolomitic Thasian marble are to be found in major museums. Both calcitic and dolomitic marbles are of medium grain size i .

The statues in Athens were outside the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The foundations were laid in 515 BC, but it lay unfinished until Emperor Hadrian had construction completed and a monumental arched portico built; it was dedicated in AD 131. Of 108 original columns 16 survive.

The New Wing, 'Braccio Nuovo' to which Corsi refers many times in this Catalogo ragionato was inaugurated by Pius VII in 1822, the year before he died. Consequently it was very topical when Corsi was writing. It is one of several Vatican museums, and opens off the sculture gallery known as the Chiarimonti Museum which was also founded by Pius VII (see notes for no.3).

Claridge ii confirms that the pyramidal tomb of Caius Sextus (Caius Cestius) mentioned by Bellon, which was built 18-12 BC, was faced with Luna (Carrara) marble.

i. Bruno (2002b)
ii. Claridge (2010) 399

6. (19.6) Marmo greco scuro. Marmor Lesbium. The Lesbian marble (marmo Lesbio), which used to be quarried on the island of Lesbos, today Mytilene, is more like a bruise in colour than the Thasian, and almost tends towards light yellow. The grain is of very large, bright scales. Philostratus 19 observed that this marble, which among white ones could be said to be dark, was used by the [p20] ancients for the construction of sarcophagi in preference to other statuary marbles. Sculptors also made use of it, as shown by the beautiful statue of Julia Pia no.120 in the Vatican Museum and by the famous Venus in the Capitoline Museum. (Very rare).

Lesbos (Lesvos) lies just off the Turkish coast from ancient Pergamon (near modern Dikili); the major town, on the south eastern side of the island, is Mitilini.

Corsi describes this same stone here as 'dark … suitable for sarcophagi' and as 'yellowish'. In his Delle pietre antiche i he calls Lesbian marble marmo Greco giallognolo and reiterates this description: 'more bruised looking (piu livido) than the Thasian, and almost tends to yellow … sculptors probably recognized that it was well suited to the representation of flesh'.

In the early 19th century the Italian word livido could be interpreted in a number of ways, Baretti's dictionary for example gives 'livid, pale, wan, black and blue, disfigured' ii . In Latin it appears to be associated with blueness, and bruising, which may also show as yellow. 'Livid' in English has many meanings, including the lividity of death, which is similar to bruising and caused by the effect of gravity on blood in the small vessels. In Italian, in the context of marble, I [LC] believe that livido is now taken to mean the lustre of wax, which is how I have, perhaps anachronistically, sometimes translated it, though perhaps, as above, Corsi's meaning is closer to the Latin.

Marble from Lesbos, according to Lorenzo Lazzarini iii is always grey, sometimes rather dark grey, and sometimes veined with yellow. Gnoli iv discusses it with grey marbles. Although Corsi's description of this specimen covers both main features of marble from Lesbos, the sample itself is very white and does not show these features.

The statue known as Mattei Ceres, which among other names is known as, Julia Domna, is clearly the one to which Corsi refers. Julia Domna (d. AD 217), was the young Syrian second wife of the Emperor Septimius Severus (145-211). Silver denarii were struck in Rome 196-211 with IVLIA PIA FELIX AVG on the obverse. Her son Caracalla also struck denarii with IVLIA PIA on the obverse. The 'Capitoline Venus', a 2nd century AD work, a little above life-size and based on a Hellenistic sculpture, is now thought to be Parian marble v .

i. Corsi (1845) 85
ii. Baretti (1807)
iii. L. Lazzarini pers. comm.
iv. Gnoli (1988) 179
v. National Gallery of Art, Washington (2011)

7. (20.7) Marmo greco turchiniccio. Marmor Tyrium. There is in my collection a piece of white statuary marble with large scales, rather hard to cut, and of a white verging on cerulean I used to be ignorant as to which name the ancients used, for they have left us very dry descriptions of statuary marbles. I noticed, however, that Papinius Statius 20 had mentioned a white marble that used to be quarried from Mount Lebanon in Phoenicia, and because of its proximity to the cities of Tyre and Sidon, today Sur and Saida, it was called indiscriminately Tyrian or Sidian marble (marmo Tirio, e Sidonio). I noticed that, according to the authority of Josephus Flavius 21 , Solomon constructed and Herod restored the Temple at Jerusalem with the white marble of Lebanon, and I concluded that the white marble used in [p21] that city, and in all of Syria, could not be other than Tyrian (Tirio) in the same way that all works of statuary marble seen in Italy are from the quarries of Carrara. In order to compare my specimen with some marble that might have come from Jerusalem I examined that of the Scala Santa and found it to be very similar. It is for this reason that I can believe, on good grounds, that the marble commonly called 'greco turchiniccio' might be the marble that the ancients used to call Tyrian. (Very rare).

In 2007, Israeli archeologists reported that they had discovered a quarry close to the Second Temple compound, that had provided King Herod with the 20 ton blocks of stone used in his rebuilding of that temple. The Romans levelled the site in AD 70, only leaving the western 'Wailing' Wall standing i . Perhaps Corsi recalls a Biblical description (1 Kings V) of Solomon using both cedar wood and a large work-force from Lebanon when building the temple, but not necessarily using stone from Lebanon.

Statius ii in this poem about the interior decoration of baths of the rich youth, Claudius Etruscus, discusses marble that is interpreted by some translators as from Tyre and Sidon [Lebanon]. However, many scholars, for example Frere iii , have said the text is mutilated or unclear. Mozley iv writes 'No amendation of the text is convincing here. It is not certain whether there is any allusion to marble of Tyre and Sidon, of which nothing is otherwise known'.

Corsi expands the corrupt text by Statius and makes a tentative deduction based on his own experience that was taken as correct by many people, whereas Gnoli v suggests that the alleged Tyrian marble never existed. The name Tyrian (Tirio) continued in use through the 19th century until the late 20th century. For example in the Borromeo Collection vi : '398. Marmo Tirio turchino'.

The Scala Santa was so-called after a medieval legend that the staircase, which had been the one that led to the balcony of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem and had been trodden by Jesus Christ on his way to condemnation, was brought to Rome by St Helena, the Christian Mother of Emperor Constantine. Now the steps are protected by boards, but still pilgrims climb on their knees to the Sancta Sanctorum where the most sacred relics from the old Lateran palace are preserved.

i. Gaffney (2009) 2
ii. Statius (n.d.) Silvae 1.5.39.
iii. Statius, ed. Frere (1944) 44
iv. Statius, tr. Mozley (1928) 61, note d
v. Gnoli (1988) 37-38
vi. De Michele & Zezza ed. (1979) 91

8. (21.8) To another statuary marble of less fine grain, and less white, than Pentelic I dare not assign the location of the quarry, since I do not with certainty see it indicated by any writer. Vitruvius 22 mentions a white marble from Ephesus and another from Heraclea which were used in the temple of Diana. Strabo 23 speaks of another similar marble that was quarried near Mylassa, but not knowing the characteristic qualities of these marbles I am not sure that the specimen of which I speak appertains to any of them. I hope the reader [p22] will be more satisfied with my explanation than with an unverified yet confident assurance. The Venus of Bupalo in the Gabinetto of the Vatican Museum is of this marble. (Rare).

Dodge and Ward-Perkins i identify Ephesos and Heracleia under Latmos, both in Caria, (now part of western Turkey) as major quarries of white marble in the Roman world. Aphrodisias, also in Caria, is now recognized as the source of fine white marble, and is associated with a school of sculptors, though in Corsi's time neither quarry nor site had been rediscovered.

It is possible that the statue by Bupalo to which Corsi is referring may be the so-called Standing Venus.

i. Dodge & Ward-Perkins ed. (1992) 152

9. (22.9) Marmo di Carrara. Marmor Lunense. Strabo 24 states that near the city of Luni, now Carrara, in Etruria, there were quarries of white marble equally suitable for the sculpture of statues as for architectural ornamentation. The ancients used it for both purposes. In the octagonal courtyard of the Pio-Clementino Museum a Bacchus of marmo bianco di Carrara can be seen; but it was more commonly used for columns and other ornamental features. The quarries of this marble are still open and supply all the studios of the sculptors, inlayers and stonecutters. The grain is fine like that of Pentelic marble; the colour is of a gleaming, soapy white, which is somewhat like majolica, as Sig. Nibby 25 observes, and often shows black spots caused by a mixture of metallic substances. There are many quarries of the statuary marble of [p23] Carrara; the best are called 'Crestola', 'Zampone', 'Bettolia', and 'Ravaccione'. (Very common).

The quarries were probably first opened under Julius Caesar, and greatly expanded and developed by Augustus i . The Etruscan town of Luna, since called Luni, within eight miles of Carrara, was in ruins by 1442. By the 19th century the site was one and a half miles from the sea. According to Jervis, 'The first mention of the word Carrara … [was in] AD 963.' ii . The quarries are still working today.

It is very probable that Corsi meant Betogli for 'Bettolia'.

The Octagonal Courtyard, built after a design by Bramante and altered in 1775 with recesses (gabinetti) in the corners by Simonetti, is one of fifteen lavishly decorated spaces of the Pio-Clementino Museum in the former Belvedere Pavilion of the Vatican. There are many representations of Bacchus (Dionysus) in the Vatican.

i. Dodge & Ward-Perkins ed. (1992) 22 footnote
ii. Jervis (1862) 5

10. (23.10) Bianco di Pont. This marble, which is found in Piedmont, is inferior to that from Carrara, but nonetheless good use can be made of it for architectural ornaments and also for sculpture. The colour tends to bluish-grey, like that of the Thasian of the ancients but it is less like it in grain, which is fairly fine and luminous. (Common).

11. (23.11) Biancon di Mozurega. This is the name of a white marble quarried in the Euganean Hills near Verona. It is not very different from the preceding specimen either in usage or in colour, only the grain is less bright. (Common).


901. (Suppl.9.1) Marmo Salino dell'Elba. Not long ago, there was found on the Island of Elba the quarry of a white marble that is said to be saline because it has large shiny crystals. It resembles Parian marble in the shape of the crystals, but it is inferior in whiteness and brilliance, in fact it is often marked by greyish bands; nonetheless it is successfully used for sculpture. (Very common).

The term salino or 'saline' was sometimes used in the past when describing 'true' marbles. In 1776, Baldinucci i described 'saligno' as a kind of marble quarried at Carrara which did not freeze, had the lustre of salts and which in damp weather would sweat continuously making it difficult to carve ('…che tiene alquanto di congelazione di pietra, e à in sèque lustri che si veggono nel sale. E' alquanto trasparente; e perchè ne' tempi umidi continuamente suda, con gran fatica s' intaglia in figure.'). This suggests saline marbles had the luster of salt and were, like some salts, hygroscopic, a property not normally associated with this kind of rock. Pinkerton ii wrote in 1811 of marbles that 'present what they call a granular fracture, of a shining or saline appearance', a description which concurs with Corsi's. The term is now obsolete.

Elba is not known for its marble. Two 19th century accounts, however, confirm it was a short-lived source available in Corsi's time. Jervis iii in his 1862 account of the mineral resources of Central Italy comments that '… wherever [magnetic and specular] iron ores are found in any quantity in the Apuan Alps, the Grossetano, or Elba they are invariably accompanied by saccharoidal white marble.' and Hull explains further: 'The quarry was opened by the Emperor Napoleon I when in exile there but after his departure it was neglected.' iv . Napoleon was a great enthusiast for marble and other decorative stones. His exile on Elba lasted from 1814 to 1815.

i. Baldinucci (1681) 140
ii. Pinkerton (1811) 380-381
iii. Jervis (1862) 56
iv. Hull (1872) 130

Species II
Palombino marbles (Marmi palombini)

Palombino marble is understood to be that either not adapted or seldom used for statues,[p24] off-whitish in colour, never gleaming white, often tending to light grey or yellowish and in a way similar to the feathers of wood-pigeons for which reason many people still call it 'marmo colombino'. The grain is very fine, the texture compact, and the fracture without lustre. The calcareous substance seems to be combined with a little magnesia, sometimes also alumina, and clay.


12. (24.1) Marmo Palombino antico. Marmor Coraliticum. Pliny 26 mentions a marble called 'coralitico', also known as sagario, because it was found on the banks of a river called by some 'Coralio'and by others 'Sagari' 27 that had its sources in Phrygia. He says it resembles 'ivory as much in colour as in texture', and attests that there were 'not any pieces of it measuring more than two cubits'. Whoever sees the marble called Palombino in modern times will be convinced that it corresponds [p25] perfectly to 'marmo coralitico', since it appears to the eye as Pliny described it. That marmo palombino would not have been found in pieces greater than two cubits is well demonstrated by observing the use that the ancients made of it and in those works that happen to be left to us. Palombino was usually used for inlaying internal paving as small, separate, quadrilateral and rhomboidal pieces. In the Galleria de' Candelabri in the Vatican Museum there are two cinerary urns of this marble, not more than a foot in height, one is numbered 1565, and the other 1178, with the inscription 'T. Claudio Successo'. The largest vase I know of, but which does not exceed the measurement of two cubits, is in the possession of Mr Dodwell, to whom I referred in speaking of Parian marble. The Romans also used it for sculpture, for among the busts of the Twelve Caesars in the Palazzo Altemps there are two of palombino. (Very rare).

A cubit is and a half feet, (46 cm); four cubits c. six feet (1, 830 cm).

Gnoli i suggests that the provenance of palombino was uncertain, but that this reference by Corsi to Pliny 'might have serious foundation'. It is a stone that was easy to cut because of its homogeneity and relative softness. Small pieces in a variety of shapes may be seen illustrated in I Marmi Colorati ii , catalogue of an exhibition held in Rome in the winter of 2002-03.

The busts of the Twelve Caesars are still in the loggia of the piano nobile of the Palazzo Altemps, which was sold to the Holy See in 1887, and acquired by the State in 1982 iii .

i. Gnoli (1988) 259-260
ii. De Nuccio & Ungaro (2002)
iii. Cresti & Rendina (1998) 174-181

13. (25.2) Another palombino antico of a darker colour, tending [p26] to grey. This variety, it is said, might have come from Egypt, and I do not find it difficult to believe as in the aforesaid Galleria de' Candelabri in the Vatican Museum there is an Egyptian idol of this same marble registered with the no.562. (Rare).

Gnoli i (see 12 above) also says that differing qualities of palombino 'a dolomitic limestone' were used in the Pharonic period, and that it occurs in different localities in the Eastern Egyptian desert.

i. Gnoli (1988) 259-260

14. (26.3) Travertino di Tivoli. Marmor Tyburtinum. Marmo Tiburtino, commonly called travertine, is classed with the palombino species. Although it may be said to belong to the palombini in grain and colour, it is however of a different formation, that is by sedimentation. Vitruvius 28 thought it the best stone for construction because when exposed to the air it not only resists inclement weather, but also becomes more resistant. Many monuments in Rome, including the Flavian amphitheatre, justify the assertion of the learned architect. Travertine is generally porous, but in spite of this some very compact pieces are found, and then it can take a good polish. Giorgio Vasari 29 praised highly the quality of travertine used in the two carved salamanders to be seen on the [p27] façade of the church of S. Luigi de' Francesci. (Very common).

Travertino di Tivoli is indeed a travertine, a chemical precipitate deposited from hot springs, and rightfully belongs with his alabastri and tartari (nos. 294-388). Corsi's term 'per sedimento' is a little confusing in that limestones such as the palombini are deposited by a process of sedimentation of calcareous mud, shell fragments etc.

Very large quantities of Travertino di Tivoli have been used in Rome from ancient to modern times. It is relatively soft to cut at first but hardens with time and exposure to the elements, and this, as Corsi says, has made it a very durable building stone. The cavities which are such a characteristic of this stone, are left where plant material and other debris trapped in the travertine during its formation, has decayed away. Today, the holes are generally closed up with an epoxy filler before the stone is polished.

The Flavian Amphitheatre is now better known as the Colosseum. It was used as a 'quarry' for travertine for some 400 years following earthquake damage in the mid-14th century. Claridge i tells the history of this, and of many other buildings and sites.

Vasari ii writes about the salamanders: 'These [carvings of a Frenchman named Maestro Gian, including the salamanders] … bear witness to the excellence and quality of the stone [travertine] which … can be worked as freely as marble. … Michelangelo Buonarroti ennobled this stone in the decoration of the court of the Casa [Palazzo] Farnese. With marvellous judgement he has used it for windows, masks, brackets and many other such fancies … worked as marble is worked.' These comments may account for Corsi's inclusion of travertine among decorative, rather than building, stones. Later iii he classes them among the latter.

i. Claridge (2010) 312-319
ii. Vasari 1.12, tr. Maclehose (1960) 52-54
iii. Corsi (1845) 75-76

15. (27.4) Marmo di Segni. The colour tends to be a little greyer than that of palombino antico. It is used for lithography, but with little success because sometimes it is porous. (Common).

16. (27.5) Pietra litografica. Better adapted than the above for lithography, in fact the best of all, is the 'lithographic' stone from Munich in Bavaria. It is of a colour between pea-green and yellowish, and is of a surprising compactness. (Common).

Lithography had been invented by a Bavarian actor and playwright Alois Senefelder i , ii who made a chance discovery that the fine-grained compact Jurassic limestone from Kelsheim could be used as a plate for printing purposes. Joining with a family of music publishers, Senefelder spent the following years perfecting the process as an economic alternative to the use of copper plate. He publicised his findings which were translated into French and English in 1819. Lithographic stone was a comparative novelty among the dealears when Corsi was forming his collection.

Quarries in the southern Franconian Alb were to provide the best quality lithographic limestone for more than a hundred years, until the introduction of new cheaper technologies. The deposit of rock known as 'plattenkalk' extends from Langenaltheim in the west to Kelheim in the east, but the best stone for lithography came from the Solnhofen area. This easily cleaved stone has been used for building purposes since Roman times.

Plattenkalk is also famous for its exceptionally well preserved fossil remains of plants and animals, including the primitive bird Archaeopteryx lithographica.

i. Pennell (1915) 5-29
ii. Barthel (1990) 1-16

17. (27.6) Marmo bianco di Fuligno. Palombino background, with some very fine grey veining. (Common).

18. (27.7) Palombino di Mozurega, near Verona. Almost like marmo coralitico. (Not common).

19. (27.8) Palombino di Ancona. A little whiter than the one above. (Not common).

20. (27.9) Bianco di Parma. Palombino background with some tortuous grey veining. (Not common).

21. (27.10) Bianco di Malfesine. Creamy-white background with some rose-coloured markings: from the Euganean Hills. (Not common).


Species III
Yellow marbles (Marmi gialli)

§ I Giallo antico (Giallo antico, Marmor Numidicum)

From Numidia, today the Barbary Coast, a province of Africa and precisely from the sides of the Moorish mountains (monte Maurasido), there used to be extracted a yellow marble which cannot be other than the marble we call 'Giallo antico'. Pliny 30 observes that the revenues of Numidia used to lie in the trading of wild beasts and yellow marble; from this it can be deduced that a very great deal of it would have been quarried. There is an astonishing quantity of it to be seen in Rome, in large masses too, such as the eight superb columns of the Pantheon, those of the Lateran Basilica and of the Arch of Constantine. The shades of colour that are seen in this marble correspond perfectly with those noted by the ancient writers. Sidonius Apollinaris 31 likened it to[p29] ivory and Paulus Silentiarus 32 to gold and saffron. In the various specimens that I shall describe, precisely the above tints can be observed. Martial 33 also called it Libyan marble. Its texture is compact, the grain very fine. Although the yellow marbles, as much the ancient as the Italian, would almost always show some veins of another shade of yellow, either lighter or darker, nonetheless mineralogists consider them as monochrome. See Linné. 34

The Barbary Coast, named after the Berber people, was a term used by Europeans for the North African coast from the Atlantic to the west border of Egypt at the time of the Ottoman Empire. It was associated with the raiding shipping and trading of Christian slaves by the Moors.

Corsi (1845) notes i that since Numidia and Libya are so near one another the same marble was called either Numidian or Libyan. At the end of the 16th century Del Riccio ii states that the marmo giallo was known as Numidico in antiquity, and that the quarry was said to be in Egypt.

It is now known that Giallo antico has been used for yellow marbles from two locations. The first, Chemtou (the ancient Roman city of Simitthus) in Tunisia was the source of all Corsi's specimens. Huge quantities of stone were quarried, and a canal was dug to transport it to the nearby river and thence to the Mediterranean coast, from where it was shipped to Ostia, Rome and onwards to other parts of the Roman empire.

One of the columns from the Arch of Constantine was taken in 1597 and placed in the Lateran Basilica beside the north door, underneath the organ loft. The arch was largely built of recycled marble, much of it coloured.

For a fine study of the architecture of the Pantheon see Wilson Jones Principles of Roman Architecture iii .

Martial's epigram praises a outstandingly brave and beautiful lion with a fine roar in an Italian arena, likening it metaphorically to giallo antico, drawing attention to their common colour, resilience, place of origin, and regal associations iv .

Giallo antico was quarried from around the second century BC to the third century AD, and for a short period again in the 19th century. The name was apparently also given to yellow marbles from Algeria but these were only used near the quarries and not brought to Rome v .

i. Corsi (1845) 90
ii. Del Riccio II, ed. Gnoli & Sironi (1996) 90
iii. Wilson Jones (2003)
iv. Martial 8.55 (Bohn (1897) (8.53 in other versions)
v. Price (2007) 90-91


22. (29.1) Wan yellow with markings the colour of wood. (Very common).

23. (29.2) Brecciated with waxy yellow, and dark tawny yellow. (Very common).

24. (29.3) Plain yellow of a vivid colour, known as 'giallo dorato'. (Not common).

25. (29.4) Golden yellow of a richer tint. (Not common).

26. (29.5) Plain yellow of a very pale tint tending to white. Pliny says it would have been the most esteemed of yellow marbles. (Rare).

27. (29.6) Very faint yellow, like flowers of straw-colour. (Rare).


28. (30.7) Golden yellow, with purple veins. (Not common).

29. (30.8) Yellowish red, known as 'carnagione'. Perhaps the tint is caused by fire. (Common).

Corsi i later wrote 'There is a type of giallo antico called carnagione, and as it is very beautiful it is held in great esteem when the tint is natural, but sometimes this yellow acquires the name of carnagione (blush pink) when it has suffered the action of fire.'

The stonecutters recognised this, and Corsi may be suggesting they were not above altering the colour themselves. When baked experimentally between about 300°C and 500°C, samples of giallo antico show this effect. The hue (pale pink to red) depends on the iron content of the stone ii . Theophrastus iii had also noticed a similar effect of fire on yellow ochre. The ancient Romans made use of fire for altering the colour of small decorative inlays of giallo antico iv .

i. Corsi (1845) 91
ii. M. Mariottini pers. comm.
iii. Theophrastus 54, tr. Caley & Richards (1956) 56
iv. Adembri (2002) 473

30. (30.9) Golden yellow, with fragments of very pale yellow. (Rare).

31. (30.10) Golden yellow, with veins of yellow tending to purplish. (Rare).

32. (30.11) Deep yellow, with purplish fragments. (Rare).

33. (30.12) Another, darker one with purplish veins. (Rare).

34. (30.11) Yellow brecciated with white, found in Hadrian's Villa with a layer of ash-coloured calcareous deposit formed by the water of the river at Tivoli. (Very rare and perhaps unique).

The curious grey coloration is the result of reduction of the iron colouring the marble during prolonged immersion in the river. The sides of the specimen have the typical yellow colouration shown by giallo antico.

§ II Yellow marbles of Italy (Gialli d'Italia)


35. (30.1) Giallo schietto di Siena, of a plain, rich colour very similar to the ancient, only less vivid. (Common).

Giallo di Siena is a beautiful egg-yolk yellow and can match giallo antico for its beauty of colour and slight translucency. The finest stone has come from Montarrenti, near the town of Sovicille. Quarrying of the stone has taken place on a relatively small scale for many centuries, but became far more commercial in the 20th century, and it has been exported worldwide. Some quarrying still takes place i .

i. Price (2007) 92-93

36. (31.2) Giallo brecciato di Siena. Background of dark yellow, with whitish and waxy grey fragments. (Common).

37. (31.3) Broccatello di Siena. Bright yellow ground with many purplish markings. According to Ferber 35 it is quarried near Montorrenti. The pilasters of this marble in the Church of S. Antonio de' Portoghesi are very beautiful. (Common).

Broccatello was so-called because of its similarity to the richly textured fabric, usually of silk with gold or silver thread, known as brocade. It should not be confused with the Spanish broccatello (nos. 390-393).

Ferber i is discussing 'The cabinet of natural curiosities that had been bequeathed to the University and Academy of Siena by the Professor of Natural History, Dr Guiseppe Baldassari.' ii . Ferber describes broccatello di Siena as 'a yellow marble with black veins; the ground sometimes purple; burning makes the whole red coloured'… dug … eight Italian miles distant from Sienna; generally known and much employed in Italy.'

Like giallo di Siena (nos.35, 36), Broccatello di Siena has been quarried at Montarrenti, near Sovicille and because the land has been owned by the Convent of Montarrenti, it is also known as convent Siena iii .

i. Ferber (1776), tr. Raspe 247, 251
ii. MUSNAF (2005-2011)
iii. Price (2007) 92-93

38. (31.4) Marmo scuro di Trento. Very deep yellow that because of the colour, and because of the form of the veins, looks like a wood. (Rare).

39. (31.5) Giallo di Saltrio, in the Milanese area. Ground of light yellow and slightly reddish, with veins of a canary yellow. (Common).

40. (31.6) Giallo di Brianzo, in the Milanese area. Ground of yellow similar to the ancient marble with grey veins. (Common).

41. (31.7) Giallo di Torbe, in the Veronese area, is of a dark and faded hue. (Common).

42. (31.8) Giallo di Verona. Light ground with small, dark veins. (Common).

43. (31.9) Pomorolo di Mizzolle, in the Veronese area. Ground of very light yellow with darker yellow veins [p32] and some purplish markings. (Not common).

44. (32.10) Giallo di Sentro, in the Veronese area. Ground of light yellow with fragments of darker yellow. (Common).

45. (32.11) Giallo, e turchino di Mizzolle, in the Veronese area. Grey ground tending to dark blue with large markings of a golden yellow. A very beautiful marble and (rare).

46. (32.12) Giallo di Lubiara, in the Veronese area, of a single very pale shade of yellow. (Common).

47. (32.13) Giallo di Torri, near Lake Garda. Ground of a strong yellow with paler markings. (Common).

48. (32.14) Giallo di Mizolle in Val Pantena. Ground of canary yellow with many rounded white markings. (Rare).

49. (32.15) Mandolà di S. Ambrogio, in the Euganean Hills, is a mixture of light yellow, with reddish markings. (Common).

50. (32.16) Mandolà di Monte Baldo, near Verona. Blush pink ground with markings of light yellow. (Not common).


902. (Suppl.9.1) Giallo venato di Siena. Light yellow ground marked by a darker yellow, and lined with dark purple. (Common).


Species IV
Blush pink marbles (Marmi carnagione)

Many pure lithologists, as well as mineralogists, assign a marble they call blush pink to a separate species, since, although it is monochrome, it presents in different samples the various shades of skin tone. Linne 36 calls it 'marmor Cinnamomeum'; and Ferber 37 refers to it as 'Cannella', and he puts it among the ancient marbles. However I believe that he might have been mistaken, both because I have never found it used in ancient sculpture, and because I myself have gathered pebbles of it in streams flowing from the Apennines, where I must believe that the mines might be. This marble is delicately coloured very beautiful in appearance, very compact, and of a very fine grain.

Carnagione literally means complexion. This is not a term used in English for colour, and in my [LC] opinion the nearest equivalent is 'blush pink'. Carnagioni are classified as 'Italian' (i.e. modern rather than ancient) although Corsi says that nos. 55 and 56 were 'thought to be ancient'. In Delle pietre antiche (1845) i he omits carnegioni altogether. However, no.60 may have been used for flooring in Pompeii ii .

Pink limestones like this were indeed quarried from various locations in Umbria and Marches regions of the Apennines. The stone from Monte Subasia, known as pietra rosa di Assisi was used for the Basilica of St Clare and other buildings in that city. Corsi's Cottanello marble (no.187) is another example of his marmi carnagione, but brecciated as a result of movement of the rocks along a major fault line that runs through central Italy iii .

i. Corsi (1845)
ii. L. Lazzarini pers.comm.
iii. Price (2007) 112


51. (33.1) Rosetta di Bergamo, almost white, with a hint of rose colour. (Rare).

52. (33.2) Carnagione d'Asti. Similar in colour to a pale rose. (Not common).


53. (34.3) Persighina di Mosurega. Similar to a pale peach blossom. It is found in the Euganean Hills. (Not common).

54. (34.4) Carnagione di Terni. A little lighter than the above mentioned. (Not common).

55. (34.5) Marmo cannellino chiaro. Pale cinnamon colour. This is thought to be ancient. (Rare).

56. (34.6) Marmo cannellino scuro. Dark cinnamon colour. This is also thought to be ancient. (Rare).

57. (34.7) Palombino rosso di Ancona. Commonly it is called palombino, but it belongs to the blush pink marbles. (Very rare).

58. (34.8) Carnagione di Perugia. Of a cinnamon colour tending to wood colour. (Rare).

59. (34.9) Rossino degli Appennini. Of a blush pink colour tending to purplish. (Not common).

60. (34.10) Carnagione di Camerino. Almost verging on red. (Not common).


Species V
Red marbles (Marmi rossi)


61. (35.1) Marmo rosso antico. Marmor Alabandicum. It is truly an extraordinary thing that the quarry and the ancient name of such a beautiful, rare, and altogether so well recognised a marble as rosso antico should not be known. Some writers, in order to attempt to say something, have supposed that the red might have been a marking of giallo antico, but I do not believe this view is well founded. Indeed, if there had been this supposed union of colours between the red and the yellow it would be apparent in large or small markings. Consequently there would have been some examples of red marked with yellow, and some of yellow marked with red, but it has never been seen among the many red and many yellow marbles that are in Rome. [p36] Perhaps one might be tempted to think that the so-called 'rosso brecciato' which without doubt corresponds to the Lydian marble as will be seen at the proper time, might be the same as rosso antico but the differences of colour and of texture exclude this hypothesis.

Rather than be silent with the other writers, I venture to say that rosso antico corresponds to marmo Alabandico. Pliny 38 in referring to this marble, says that it used to be quarried in Asia Minor, near the city of Alabanda from which it takes its name, and he describes it as 'black, that in appearance inclines a great deal to purple'. From this it is understood that Alabandico was not absolutely black, because it was toned with purple, nor was it purple colour, because it was mixed with, and originated from, black. Anyone who looks carefully at rosso antico will see that it does not present a vivid red, but an extremely deep red similar to the colour of animal liver. A black that tends in the least to purple could do no less than appear as a liver-coloured red. Neither should it be said that ancient purple [p37] might have been of violet colour because the very accurate writer, Cornelius Nipotis 39 , in speaking of purple, explains it thus, 'When I was a young man the violet purple used to be held in esteem, but soon after that the Tarantine purple-red was more highly regarded.'

If in the youth of Cornelius, which was in the time of the Republic, the purple-red was already in use we must conclude that it would have remained in use until the time in which Pliny was writing. From this it may be inferred that the colour of marmo Alabandico was of a black, tending to red, and could correspond very well to that known as 'rosso antico'. This marble has a very fine grain, the dark colour is often marked with a bluish-grey white, and almost always shows long, thick curved lines in reticulate form. The famous fauns of the Vatican and Capitoline museums are of such marble. The largest masses of this marble are the fourteen steps that lead up to the high altar in the church of S. Prassede and the two extraordinary columns eighteen spans high in the Camera dell'Aurora of the Palazzo Rospigliosi. [p38] Meanwhile, as I write, there have arrived in Rome two beautiful columns, thirteen spans high, now to be seen in the studio of the sculptor Sig. Pozzi in via del Corso near the church of S. Giacomo degl' Incurabili. (Very rare).

When Corsi wrote his second edition of Delle pietre antiche in 1833, he admitted making a mistake in correlating rosso antico with Pliny’s stone from Alabanda purely on the criteria of colour, without considering other physical properties i . He explains that Pliny’s stone could be melted by fire, which he says indicates a quartz or feldspar base. Rosso antico, being composed of calcium carbonate, would form lime when heated, and would not liquefy.

Pliny makes no mention of a marble from Alabanda. His description is of ‘carbunculus’ which, according to Bostock’s translation ii , has proof against the action of fire. Even in Corsi’s time, mineralogists understood this stone to be garnet, and more specifically the iron aluminium garnet known as almandine, named after Alabanda where, Pliny tells us, it was cut.

Rosso antico was one of the coloured stones most admired by the ancient Romans, because of the association of ideas with 'imperial purple' iii , iv . Ferber v describes it as 'dark red; scarce and dear'. Propertius vi , in a song to his love suggests that the art of song is more attractive to her than material luxuries, such as pillars of Taenarian marble, ceilings coffered with ivory set in the midst of gilded beams, orchards as fine as those of Phaeacian king, Alcinous vii or elaborate artificial grottoes watered by the Aqua Marcia, which was renowned for its cold, clear drinking water viii . Gnoli ix suggests that the marble from Tenaros, mentioned by Tibullus and Propertius and cited by Corsi (see no.71), is rosso antico, and not nero antico, a view that is now generally held.

Corsi refers to a number of places where rosso antico can be seen in Rome. Both the fauns that he mentions were found at Hadrian's Villa. In the medieval church of S. Prassede the wide rosso antico steps lead up to the choir. The large columns mentioned by Corsi are at the entrance to the Camera dell'Aurora where Guido Reni's ceiling fresco of Apollo and Aurora was very greatly admired, particularly during the 18th and 19th centuries. It is in the private art gallery known as the Casino of Aurora x .

i. Corsi (1833) 93
ii. Pliny 37.25 tr. Bostock (1855)
iii. Deér (1959) 144
iv. Gnoli (1988) 187-191
v. Ferber (1776) 218
vi. Propertius 3.2.11-14, ed. Camps (1966) 61
vii. Homer 7.110-135, tr. Murray (1919)
viii. Schram (2004-2011)
ix. Gnoli (1988) 89, note 5
x. Benzi et al. (1997) 176-79

62. (38.2) Another rosso antico, less dark and (even rarer).

63. (38.3) Porporina della Villa Adriana. This stone resembles imitation purpurin, and it is to be found in the excavations of Hadrian's Villa, near Tivoli. It is porous, but of a beautiful colour. (Very rare).

Purpurin, a reddish purple dye, was extracted from the root of the madder plant. It was not until the 19th century that it was prepared artificially. It was also the name given to a red glass that was sometimes used as a frame for examples of micromosaic designs.

Corsi uses the present tense 'si trova' indicating that at the time of writing it had been found recently. This stone seems to be particularly rare in collections of ancient marbles. A specimen in the Borromeo Collection i '198 - Rosso antico porfidino e porporino della Villa Adriana. Rarissima.' is probably the same stone.

i. De Michelle & Zezza ed. (1979) 85

64. (38.4) Rosso di Sabina. The colour is dark, dull, base, and takes a mediocre polish. (Very common).

65. (38.5) Rosso di Newhaven in England. This is the most beautiful red marble known, because its colour is similar to scarlet. It is difficult to find pieces larger than the sample here. (Very rare).

This is one of several specimens of Derbyshire stone given to Corsi by the William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire. Most are more highly polished than other samples in Corsi's collection, strongly suggesting they were cut in England to the dimensions that Corsi required, before being sent to Rome.

Corsi's block appears to be one of the earliest provenanced samples of Duke's red marble. A small amount had been found during excavations in 1819 for a new coaching inn on the toll road at Newhaven, Derbyshire i . The Duke's account books in the archives at Chatsworth record that a shaft was sunk in Newhaven for the new red marble ii , iii , and this was most probably the source of Corsi's specimen. As reserves were depleted, the 7th Duke (1808-1891) had all remaining Duke's red taken from the ground and stored at Chatsworth House to be used very sparingly. Apparently in the past the stone was watered every day to keep it in good condition.

Various authors reported that' Duke's red marble' had been found in 1830 at Alport near Youlgrave, 7km to the north-east. However, Thomas and Cooper, in their paper 'The Geology of Chatsworth House, Derbyshire' iv , say this material, which was also used for inlay in decorative table tops, was a solidified iron-rich sediment derived from mine drainage channels in the Alport area.

i. Farey (1811) 403
ii. Chats. Acc., m. (1823)
iii. Brighton (1995)
iv. Thomas & Cooper (2008) 30

66. (38.6) Rosso di Seravezza. Colour tending to deep purplish. (Very rare).


67. (39.7) Rosso di Prodo, near Orvieto; somewhat similar to the ancient, but less vivid. (Common).

68. (39.8) Rosso di Taormina, in Sicily. A little lighter than the ancient, tending towards blush pink. (Very rare).

69. (39.9) Rosso d'Abruzzo. Of a colour between that of the ancient marble, and that of the English one. (Rare).

70. (39.10) Rosso di Lugo. Ground of a pallid red, with markings of a darker red. (Common).


903. (Suppl.10.1) Rosso antico. Ground of a very beautiful red verging on purplish, with markings of bluish-grey white, and others of a bright red verging on scarlet. Very beautiful and of (extraordinary rarity).


Species VI
Black marbles (Marmi neri)


71. (39.1) Marmo nero antico. Marmor Taenarium. A black marble that Pausanias 40 called Taenarian (Tenario) used to be extracted from the Taenarian promontory in Laconia. At the end of the best times of Roman rule it was held in very great esteem and the poets Tibullus 41 and Propertius 42 referred to it by indicating a marble of the greatest sumptuousness. [p40] The grain is fine, the texture compact, and the colour is of deep black. Sometimes, however, it shows a white capillary line, short, straight, and broken. Beautiful examples of this marble can be seen in the Capitoline Museum, but the largest piece known is a superb table in the Palazzo Altemps. (Very rare).

Pausanius does not mention marble or a quarry in connection with the promontory of Taenarum only a temple like a cave, with a statue of Poseidon in front of it i . The best times of Roman rule referred to by Corsi were, according to Edward Gibbon ii (who voiced the scholarly opinions of the time), the Late Republic; that is, until the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180AD, and that the mores, or lifestyle and morals, of the Empire led to its decline and fall.

When Corsi wrote about nero antico in 1845 iii , he uses the less positive subjunctive mood (il congiuntivo) suggesting he was not sure of the correspondence between nero antico and Taenarian marble. 'Reasonably therefore it could be said that the Taenarian marble (marmor tenario) might correspond (corrisponda) with that said to be nero antico.'

It turns out that he was correct; black limestone (nero antico) was quarried on the Mani peninsular in antiquity iv but probably not in large quantities. Gnoli v however, thinks that the two poets Tibullus and Propertius could only have been alluding to rosso antico (see no. 61), a view that is now generally held.

Nero antico was obtained from other locations too. Pliny vi says that in the neighbourhood of Munda in Spain there is black stone like that of Taenarium, which had come to be esteemed as much as any marble. This sample of Corsi's may well be from Gebel Aziza in Tunisia.

The Palazzo Altemps was begun in 1480, but had a chequered and somewhat sad history, as did the Altemps family, though Cardinal Marco Sittico Altemps bought it back from Cardinal Soderini in 1568, and added more classical statues vii . In Corsi's day it was almost certainly still owned by the family, and contained their collection of sculpture, but it was rented out to tenants who got a name for splendid parties inviting the Roman nobility. In 1982 the building was sold by the Holy See to the Italian State. It was completely restored over 15 years, and is now a museum with sculpture from great Roman collections, including the Ludovisi and the Mattei .

i. Pausanias 3.25, tr. Jones (1926) 159
ii. Gibbon (1776), ed. Saunders (1952)
iii. Corsi (1845) 94
iv. Bruno & Pallante (2002)
v. Gnoli (1988) 189, note 5
vi. Pliny 36.29, tr. Bostock & Riley (1855)
vii. Cresti & Rendina (1998) 174-185

72. (40.2) Nero di Ashford. Takes a very beautiful polish, but when seen near nero antico it is the colour of roasted coffee. (Not common).

Nero di Ashford, known in England as Ashford black marble or Derbyshire black marble, has been used since at least 1590 at Hardwick Hall (a house in Derbyshire also built and owned for many generations by the Cavendish family). Production was greatly increased by the introduction in 1748 of the first water-powered marble mill in England at Ashford-in-the-Water. This led to widespread popularity of this bituminous limestone for various decorative objects including etched, engraved, and inlaid work, as well as stands for decorative objects and sculpture, and as architectural elements i .

Corsi's sample would have been one of those sent to him by William Cavendish, the 6th Duke of Devonshire. As with the sample of Duke's red (no. 65), it was most probably cut and polished in the Duke's Derbyshire workshops. However, according to Yarrington ii , the Duke also had quantities of Ashford black marble sent to Rome to be sculpted there into busts, tazze, obelisks, etc. under the supervision of his agent, Gaspare Gabrielli.

Corsi's observation that Ashford black marble polishes to a slightly brown tint of black when compared with nero antico is correct. However, it was preferred as the ground for marble inlay work in both the Derbyshire and the Devon workshops because it is less brittle than Belgian black marble, which was used for this purpose in the Florentine workshops, and is consequently rather easier to work iii .

i. Tomlinson (1996) 12-32
ii. Yarrington (2009) 60
iii. M. Halliday pers. comm.

73. (40.3) Pomorolo di Prun, near Verona. Similar to that from Ashford, but with darker veins. (Rare).

74. (40.4) Nero di Torino. Dark ground flowered by a paler black. (Not common).

75. (40.5) Nero di Trapani. A little less dusky-black than nero antico. (Rare).

76. (40.6) Nero di Como. Perhaps the most dusky-black of all, with some markings of a glossier black. (Not common).


Section II
Veined marbles (Marmi venati)

In this section, and under this name are included both the marbles rightly said to be ancient and those from Italy which are neither monochrome nor brecciated, but show veins, waves, and markings of various colours and formations

Species I
Porta Santa (Marmo Porta Santa, Marmor Jasense)

This name was commonly ascribed to the marble because the doorcases of the Holy Door (Porta Santa) of St. Peter's in the Vatican are made of it. The quarry was on the Island of Iasos (Jaso) in the archipelago on the coast of Caria in Asia Minor, so that it is also called marmo Cario by many authors. Its distinctive characteristic, as noted by Paulus Silentiarius 43 , consists 'of a tortuous and irregular veining, sometimes blood red [p42] , and often of a bluish-grey white'. This veining is very apparent in every part of Porta Santa thus there is no doubt that it would correspond to the ancient marble from Iasos.

The tint is generally reddish, not really bright, and of such variety that it presents all shades of colour excepting green, but not excluding white and a definite black. The grain is fine, and the texture is consistently compact. Four large columns of this marble can be seen in the altar of S. Sebastiano and that of the Presentation, in the Vatican Basilica. There are many fountain basins of it including, among others, that in the Agonal Forum. There are also four amazing columns in the church of S. Agnese fuori le mura.

Portasanta is now the more usual spelling for this stone, which was used for the jambs of the Holy Door (Porta Santa), the most northerly of the portico of St Peter's Basilica. The Holy Door is blocked on the inside most years. A ceremony is held on the Christmas Eve before a Jubilee year when the Pope opens the door with a silver hammer. Pilgrims are allowed to enter the door until the following Christmas Eve when, during another ceremony, the Pope pushes the door shut, and it is blocked on the inside again. The last Jubilee year was 2000.

Corsi was wrong in thinking portasanta came from Caria. The description from Paulus Silentiarius i '… and the glittering marble with wavy veins found in the deep gullies of the Iasian peaks, exhibiting slanting streaks of blood-red and livid white' describes a stone now known as rosso cipollino from Iasos (see nos 95-97). William Brindley ii , a marble dealer and importer, rediscovered quarries for the stone now referred to as portasanta (as used in St Peters Basilica) on the eastern Aegean island of Chios more than forty years after Corsi's death. This is a compact fine-grained limestone breccia in shades mainly of red, pink and grey, sometimes with a distinctive reticulated (net-like) appearance.

However some of Corsi's portasanta specimens are not from Chios, for example 85 from Sicily and 86 from France. As these stones have been found in other 19th century collections of ancient marbles labelled 'Porta Santa', it suggests that the name was by no means restricted to Chian marble by the scalpellini of the time.

Corsi's influence lasted well after the discovery of the quarry, for example the catalogue of the Pescetto Collection in the Servizio Geologico d'Italia iii gives the antique provenance of portasanta as Caria.

The Agonal Forum, as it was still often called in the early 19th century, refers to Piazza Navona because it was built over the running track of an athletics stadium for competitive games (agoni) after the Greek style, which was inaugurated by Domitian before AD 86 iv . From the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century, the piazza was flooded a few inches every weekend throughout August, when merrymaking took place among the nobles in their carriages, and the poorer people. Corsi's specific mention of fountains, of which there are three in the piazza, highlights their importance in Rome both in modern and ancient times.

S. Agnese fuori le mura is at the third milestone along the ancient Via Nomentina. It dates from the 7th century and has columns of re-used ancient marble in the nave. The two nearest the altar and two in the centre of each side are of portasanta v . S. Agnese (St Agnes) was martyred in the Stadium of Domitian during his reign and her grave is reputedly in the catacombs below the church.

i. Mango (1972) 85-86
ii. Brindley (1887) 47
iii. Corpo reale delle Miniere (1904) 60
iv. Claridge (2010) 234-237
v. Claridge (2010) 439-440


77. (42.1) Pinkish-red ground with a few veins of darker red. (Common).

78. (42.2) Dark red ground with white, and blood red, veins. (Common).


79. (43.3) Mixed ground flowered with grey and dark purplish colour. (Not common).

80. (43.4) Bluish green ground with yellowish translucent waves. (Not common).

81. (43.5) Dark red ground with black waves and white veins. (Not common).

82. (43.6) Pale red ground with breccie streaked with grey and peachy colour. (Not common).

83. (43.7) Purplish ground with white markings and yellowish translucent waves. (Rare).

84. (43.8) Dark red ground with white veins and light red breccie. (Not common).

85. (43.9) Tawny coloured ground with black and white waves. (Very rare).

86. (43.10) Purplish ground with breccie of a lighter shade, and small white veins. (Rare).

87. (43.11) Ground the colour of flesh banded with grey, with a large red marking and white veins. (Rare).

88. (43.12) All white, and slightly translucent. (Rare).


904. (Suppl.10.1) Porta Santa reticulata. Grey ground minutely brecciated by a lighter grey and by white with deep yellow markings in reticular form. A beautiful specimen and (rare).

905. (Suppl.10.2) Ligneous red ground with a few grey and whitish markings, and thick irregular reddish lines. (Not common).

906. (Suppl.10.3) Reddish ground mixed with purplish, with white markings and blackish bands. (Rare).


907. (Suppl.11.4) Purplish ground with markings just verging on rose pink and very white bands. (Very rare).

908. (Suppl.11.5) Blush pink ground, with one large stripe of white edged with red. Very beautiful and (vey rare).

909. (Suppl.11.6) Dark grey ground, with purplish markings in the form of breccie, and a band of clear white. (Very rare).

910. (Suppl.11.7) White ground verging on rosy pink with many small red markings (of extraordinary beauty and rarity).


Species II
Cipollino marble (Marmo cipollino, Marmor Carystium)

On Mount Ochi (monte Oco) near the city of Carystos, there is the quarry of a marble called 'Carystian' (Caristio). It was also known as 'Euboico' by Pollux, since Carystos is on the island of Euboea, today Negroponte. The stonecutters know it under the name of 'Cipollino' for the reason that within the calcareous substance are found long, thick layers of mica which separate readily along the line of these strata similar to an onion. The most common type that Pliny 44 mentioned is 'of a light green, with veins, and waves of a darker green'. Papinius Statius 45 rightly compared it with 'the waves of the sea,' for it resembles them in both colour as well as in form. Seneca 46 observed, however, that marmo Caristio does not always show 'only green, but also other colours', and in fact it is often seen in red combined with white [p45] . The largest columns of this stone, with the exception of the very largest one lying in the courtyard of the Curia Innocenziana, are almost buried in the vicolo della Spada d'Orlando. They belonged to the famous portico dedicated by Agrippa in honour of Neptune, which gave rise to the idea that he would have wished to consecrate to the deity of the sea a marble that showed him the waves. The columns of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina are also remarkable for their size. The grain size is very small, the fracture is striated.

Pliny i mentions Ocha as a city, but Corsi's contemporaries support his assertions that it is a mountain, for example Dodwell ii refers to Okhi Oros as Mt. Oche and adds a footnote 'This mountain is at present called Karystos, and sometimes the mountain of Saint Elias'.

The very large ancient quarries are at Kylindri, above Carystos, on the southern side of the Greek island of Euboea (Evia) and supplied the typical green and white cipollino verde. A great deal of this was used, often as large monolithic blocks and columns, throughout the Roman Empire; so much so that it became rather despised as a symbol of fashionable luxury in Rome. It is sometimes called Carystian green.

The Portico of Agrippa dedicated to Neptune was near the Pantheon iii also first dedicated by Agrippa. It is in the same area of Rome as the Spada Orlando.

The fine Corinthian columns of the Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina front the Roman Forum. The church of S. Lorenzo in Miranda was formed of the cella, the inner chamber of the temple, in the 7th or 8th century iv .

Corsi's cipollini come from a number of other locations; indeed cipollino is a somewhat generic name for folded, banded marbles that resemble the layers of an onion (cipolla). Both here and in his Delle pietre antiche, Corsi v describes the different markings and colours that he observes in cipollino marbles, but he does not acknowledge any other provenance. As well as blocks from Tuscany in Italy and Caria in Turkey, he includes samples of cipollino mandolato, the Campan marbles from France which are nodular limestones and would not today be classified with the cipollini. Details are given in the further information for each specimen.

i. Pliny 4.21, tr. Bostock & Riley (1855)
ii. Dodwell (1819) v.2, 153
iii. Claridge (2010) 202, fig. 77
iv. Claridge (2010) 111-112
v. Corsi (1845) 98-99


89. (45.1) Light greenish ground similar to soap, with a few lateral veins. (Not common).

90. (45.2) Very light green ground with veins of deep green. (Very common).

91. (45.3) Green ground verging on grey with yellowish bands. There are two small slabs of this marble in Rome, in the third chapel to the left in the Church of S. Maria di Monte Santo al Popolo. (Very rare).


The inlays in S. Maria di Monte Santo are probably more like a stone from the Apuan Alps, and are very similar to some floor slabs in the nave of the Frari in Venice.

92. (46.4) White ground with green waves. (Rare).

93. (46.5) Light green ground with white breccie, known as 'mandolato verde'. (Rare).

94. (46.6) Light red ground with white breccie, called 'mandolato rosso'. My friend Sig. Gaspare Gabrielli, a talented artist and great lover of marbles, owns a very beautiful tazza of this marble. (Very rare).

Gaspare Gabrielli was an Italian landscape artist, who as a young man was brought to Ireland in 1805, by the 2nd Baron Cloncurry, to paint views of Italy in his house, Lyons, where he spent 3 years. Gabrielli taught, established a reputation, and by 1811 was elected vice president of the Society of Artists of Dublin, where he exhibited numerous times. He is said to have painted a room for the 5th Duke of Manchester in Tandragee Castle, and evidently met the 6th Duke of Devonshire, owner of Lismore Castle, who remarked that 'he [Gabrielli] repaired to Rome' in 1814 i ii . Here, according to Yarrington, Gabrielli was 'one of several artists and artisans who specialised in sourcing different varieties of rare marble for sale.' iii He became the Duke's agent in Rome, sourcing and shipping marble sculptures, pedestals, tables etc., to Chatsworth, and corresponding with numerous letters on the progress of the Duke's sculptural commissions and purchases.

When the Duke of Devonshire visited Rome, Gabrielli acted as his cicerone. Together they visited many sculptors' studios, dealers in marble and other objects made of it, as well as museums and sites. It is most likely that Gabrielli would have arranged the Duke's visit to Corsi too. The Duke may well also have heard of Corsi from Lord Compton, who was related by marriage, of the same age, lived in Rome for 10 years, and knew Corsi.

Gnoli iv suggested that cipollino mandolato rosso or Campan rouge was more greatly admired in Rome, because it was rarer than the mandolato verde. Both stones come from France.

i. Cavendish (1845) 60
ii. IAA (2012)
iii. Yarrington (2009)
iv. Gnoli (1988) 183

95. (46.7) Ground red all over with a very few white veins. (Rare).

This is the stone variously known as cipollino rosso, marmor Iasense, or marmor Carium from Iasos, Caria in south-west Turkey to which Paul the Silentiary i was referring as Carian (quoted in notes for portasanta). A great deal of it was used in the 'open book' style, decorating Haghia Sophia ('Ayasofya') in Istanbul and San Vitale in Ravenna. There, according to Gnoli ii it is known as 'africanone' or 'africano egizio'.

The stone from Iasos occurs in different varieties. When monochrome red, it is called rosso antico, and can be very difficult to distinguish from the Greek stone of that name iii . It is not in Corsi's collection. Nos 95-97 are typical examples of cipollino rosso; and nos. 389 and 903 are examples of cipollino rosso brecciato; Corsi confusingly calls the latter sample 'rosso antico'. He was understandably confused, and went on to write iv 'there is the red coloured cipollino that is not dissimilar to the antique red marble'.

i. Mango (1972) 86
ii. Gnoli (1988) 243
iii. Gorgoni (2002a)
iv. Corsi (1845) 98-99

96. (46.8) Grey ground striped with white and with red veins. (Rare).

97. (46.9) Sample with three distinct patches of white, green, and red. (Rare).

98. (46.10) Ground of an olive green with white waves. (Rare).

99. (46.11) White ground with black waves. (Rare).

100. (46.12) White ground with black streaks. The two columns in the church of S. Maria delle Grazie at the Porta Angelica are of this marble. (Rare).

The church of S. Maria delle Grazie at the Porta Angelica was demolished for road-building after the Second World War.


911. (Suppl.11.1) Deep green ground covered with waves of a pea green. Very beautiful, rare, and perhaps (unique).

912. (Suppl.11.2) Black ground with many dark grey waves. (Very rare).

Species III
Africano marble (Marmo Africano, Marmor Chium)


Although the island of Chios (Scio) in the Archipelago is part of Asia Minor, nonetheless the marble found there is usually, because of a common mistake, called 'Africano', perhaps on account of its dark shades. Theophrastus 47 says that black was the predominating colour, and Pliny 48 adds that it had markings of various colours, characteristics that all fit perfectly with the so-called Africano marble. All the many colours that are seen in this marble are of a surprising vividness, and are distinguished by diverse markings that are neither long like veins, nor concentrated in breccie. The texture is always compact, rather hard to work and not infrequently it contains some veins of quartz. The largest columns of this marble that are known flank the great door of the facade of the Vatican Basilica.

Theophrastus i wrote 'There is also found [in Thebes] a transparent stone, something like the Chian.' From this, the translator Hill concluded that 'Chian was a dark coloured marble, so named from the Island of Chios, where it was dug; something of the kind of the Lapis Obsidianus of Aethiopia, and like it in some degree transparent.' Pliny ii said that in his opinion, 'the first specimens of our favourite marbles with their parti-coloured markings appeared from the quarries of Chios, ... (versicolores istas maculas Chiorum lapicidinae osternderunt).' We now know he was referring to the marble known as portasanta.

Michael Balance iii rediscovered the ancient quarry of africano, in Sigacik (Teos), near Izmir, Turkey in 1966, more than 120 years after Corsi's death. He found fragments of the marble around a curious deep lake which turned out to be the flooded quarry. The Greek island of Chios lies in the east of the Aegean near that part of the Turkish coast (Asia Minor) where Sigacik is situated.

The black or dark grey colouring of africano is a characteristic feature in this brightly coloured breccia, in which pink, green, red and white also feature prominently. It is a limestone breccio-conglomerate and may show crinoids and other fossil debris as well as metallic pale gold pyrite crystals. The uncharacteristic brown colouration of Corsi's specimen 112 is restricted to the top few millimeters only, and is presumably due to weathering of the block from which the sample was cut.

It was not necessarily always because of the dark colouring that this breccia was known as africano. It may have been because of its supposed provenance. Del Riccio iv wrote: 'The marmo affricano [sic] called Ethiopian in Antiquity, was quarried in the lands of Egypt.'

Africano is now believed to be the marmor Luculleum mentioned by Pliny, a matter that is explained in greater detail in the notes with no.127.

Corsi's opinions as to the provenance of africano, given in his Catalogo ragionato and in his Delle pietre antiche v , were promulgated in the catalogues of other collections, for example in the De Santis Collection in Rome vi : 'Species africano (marmor chium) ancient provenance the Island of Chios.'

i. Theophrastus 47.16, tr. Hill (1746) 21, note l(k) & 25
ii. Pliny 36.5.46, tr. Eichholz (1962) 37
iii. Ballance (1966)
iv. Del Riccio XVIII, ed. Gnoli & Sironi (1996) 97.
v. Corsi (1845) 99-100
vi. Corpo reale delle Miniere (1904) 91


101. (48.1) Brecciated by light and dark grey, as large markings. (Very common).

102. (48.2) Brecciated by grey and green, as large and small markings. (Common).

103. (48.3) Brecciated by grey, green, and black as small markings. (Not common).

104. (48.4) Blush pink with grey, and purplish veins. (Not common).

105. (48.5) Deep black with a few small grey markings. (Rare).

106. (48.6) Green, verging on dark blue, with red and grey markings. (Very rare).

107. (48.7) Deep black with white veins sprinkled with red. (Rare).

108. (48.8) Brecciated by red, white, and a little green, known as 'corallino'. There is a very beautiful column drum of this marble in the Octagonal Courtyard of the Vatican Museum. (Very rare).

109. (48.9) Brecciated by various greens, with blood red markings. (Rare).

110. (48.10) Brecciated by various reds with few white veins. (Rare).


111. (49.11) Black brecciated by red with a large vein of white quartz. (Rare).

112. (49.12) Dark tawny colour with some grey markings. (Very rare).

113. (49.13) Brecciated minutely with various greens. (Rare).

114. (49.14) Brecciated with various peachy coloured markings. (Very rare).

115. (49.15) Fire-red colour, with a few black, and white, veins. (Rare).

116. (49.16) Deep black with red markings. (Rare).

117. (49.17) Violet ground with small, round, green markings. (Very rare).


913. (Suppl.12.1) Grey ground verging on greenish, with a large white, and small liver-coloured red markings. Very beautiful and (rare).

914. (Suppl.12.2) Dark peachy coloured ground with waves of a lighter shade, and some markings of deep red. (Very rare).

915. (Suppl.12.3) Grey ground mixed with a very ordinary white, but with many markings of blood red that make it (extremely rare).


Species IV
Fior di Persico (Marmo fior di persico, Marmor Molossium)

From Epirus, today Lower Albania, and precisely from the place where the Molossi used to live, there was quarried a marble called Molossio that Paulus Silentiarius 49 describes as 'varied [p50] by markings similar to flowers, and very suitable for use as columns'. Among all the ancient marbles that I own, and I believe I own all those that have merited a special mention by writers, I have not found one that could possibly correspond better to Molossian than that called by the moderns fior di persico.

Anyone who looks carefully in the Corsini Chapel in the Lateran Basilica, which is faced with this marble, and the two columns in the second altar to the left, in the church of S. Antonio de' Portogesi, will make out all the characteristics corresponding to the above description. The grain is fine, the texture compact, the shape of the markings always varied, and the colour is generally a very light purplish colour, and in all similar to peach blossom.

Paul the Silentiary’s poetic description was written in the 6th century to celebrate the re-opening of Haghia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul), after it had been rebuilt by Justinian following a fire. It is now generally accepted that Paul was referring to verde antico from Thessaly (see nos. 565, 566 and 962), which was used for many of the columns in Haghia Sophia, both large, in the nave, and small, in the gallery for women.

Corsi may have been guided by the 18th century author Blasius Caryophilus (Biagio Garofalo) in believing the marbles described by Paul were fior di Persico. In their account of the marbles in Haghia Sophia, Lethaby and Swainson i ‘helped by the practical knowledge of Mr. W. Brindley’ who had rediscovered the ancient quarries for verde antico in Thessaly, state that both Corsi and Caryophilus had made the same mistake.

However, there was some historical basis for linking the Molossians, the most powerful people of Epirus, with Thessaly. In the late 4th century BC the power of the Thessalanians extended to the Adriatic including the ‘land of the Molossians’ ii . Soon after this the political and military power of Thessaly waned, while that of the Molossians increased.

Fior di Persico, also known as marmor chalcidium, is from Eretrea in Greece and is a fine-grained marble, heavy deformation resulting in a very streaky appearance. The colours, which range from a brownish-red to the palest shade of pink, mixed with white, are rather distinctive. Fior di persico means peach flower, and the same name, often abbreviated to fior d pesco is given to certain purplish pink breccias from the Apuan Alps of Italy (see nos. 488, 954 and 955). Corsi often uses the term fiorito when describing marbles, an Italian word that means flowered or flowery, now used in the description of marbles but little else.

An exceptionally fine large tazza of this stone, illustrated in Price (2007) iii , can be seen in Chatsworth House, the estate of the Dukes of Devonshire in Derbyshire, England.

i. Lethaby & Swainson (1894) 236
ii. Levi (1980) 172
iii. Price (2007) 128


118. (50.1) Light peach coloured ground with small white markings. (Rare).

119. (50.2) Dark peach coloured ground brecciated by white. (Rare).


120. (51.3) White ground, translucent, with purplish, and yellow, markings. (Rare).

121. (51.4) Purplish ground veined by a darker shade, and marked with white. (Very rare).

122. (51.5) Coffee coloured ground with markings the colour of peach blossom. (Very rare).


916. (Suppl.12.1b) White ground, almost rose pink with red markings and grey dendrites. Very rare, and (perhaps unique).


Species V
Pavonazzetto (Marmo Pavonazzetto, Marmor Phrygium)

The ancients referred to this marble by four different names. Strabo 50 called it Dociminian (Docimenio), because it was quarried near the city of Dociminium. Claudian 51 called it Synnadian (Sinadico) because the city of Synnada was near Dociminium. Juvenal 52 called it Phrygian (Frigio), as the above-mentioned cities were in Phrygia. Ovid 53 called it Migdonian (Migdonio), because Migdonia was the Province adjacent to Phrygia. The characteristics of this marble as noted by Paulus Silentiarius 54 are a gleaming white ground, [p52] with many short, almost orbicular veins sometimes rose coloured and often purplish, which is why it is called 'Pavonazzetto' by the moderns. The grain is of large, shining scales, and the texture is compact. Of this very prestigious marble can be seen the remains of the forty columns in the Ostian Basilica, and twelve slightly smaller than the above-mentioned, also fluted, in the church of S. Lorenzo fuori le mura.

Pavonazzetto comes from 'pavonazzo', an old Italian word for purple derived from 'pavone', meaning peacock. The same marble name is also given to purple and white marbles from the Apuan Alps of Italy. The samples here are also known as Docimion or Phrygian marble, and were quarried in ancient Roman times at Iscehisar, in Afyon, Turkey, from an area which still supplies white marble to the trade i . They are breccias of white coarse-grained marble clasts (fragments), which have very diffuse boundaries with the purple cement.

Basilica Ostiense is now known as San Paolo fuori le Mura (St Paul outside-the-Walls). It is on the road to Ostia, near Porta San Paolo, the ancient Roman Porta Ostiensis. In 1823 the basilica burnt down, leaving only remnants of the magnificent columns. Rebuilding was not completed until 1854.

i. Price (2007) 130


123. (52.1) White ground with markings of a dark purplish. (Rare).

124. (52.2) White ground with violet markings, from the church of S. Paolo. (Very rare).

The stonecutters and dealers were clearly quick to exploit the fire (see notes to the introduction above). The Duke of Devonshire brought back to Chatsworth House part of a column of giallo antico, very much discoloured by fire, brought from the church of St Paolo fuori le mura at Rome soon after the great fire there i .

i. Yarrington (2009) 55

917. (Suppl.13.1) Light purplish ground almost entirely covered with white, grey, and yellow markings. (Very rare).

918. (Suppl.13.2) Brecciated minutely with markings of a greyish-blue white, and others of pale red. (Very rare).


Species VI
Black and white marbles (Marmi bianchi, e neri)


125. (52.1) Bianco, e nero antico. Marmor Proconnesium. The Island of Proconnesus in the Propontid, [p53] now the Sea of Marmara, used to supply a very beautiful marble veined with gleaming white, and of a very deep black. These opposite colours were never blended but decidedly distinct. One does not predominate over the other in the size of the markings and thus it cannot be said that it is a white marble marked with black, or a black marble marked with white, the moderns call it 'marmo bianco, e nero antico'. This description is taken from the work of Salmasius 55 and there is reason to believe that the marble thus described, and so-called by the moderns, might correspond to Proconnesian (Proconnesio). Since the Island of Proconnesus was near the Island of Cyzicus Pliny 56 sometimes called this marble 'Proconnesio' and sometimes 'Cizicano'. Vitruvius 57 reports that this marble, which was highly valued among the ancients, had decorated the royal palace of Mausolus. The grain is fine, the texture is compact, and therefore it takes a very fine polish. In the church of S. Cecilia in Trastevere there are four beautiful columns of this type of marble. (Very rare).

This is the only sample that was illustrated in Corsi's 'Catalogo ragionato', the colour contrast lending itself best to the printing process. It is particularly unfortunate, therefore, that he misidentified this stone. It is actually a typical grand antique from the Lez valley near Aubert, in the French Pyrenees.

Corsi refers to the great work of Salmasius (Claude de Saumaise) i researching the Polyhistor of the 3rd century AD author Gaius Julius Solinus, who in turn drew much of his information from Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia. Salmasius, after extensive analysis of his sources, wrote ‘... Proconnesio marmore niger est. Atqui niger color in illo marmore non oculorum specia intercurrit, sed per venas sparsus est, nunc recta, nunc obliquas et contortas.’ (...Proconnesian marble was black, nevertheless the black colour in that marble did not especially run among the eyes, but is sprinkled through veins, now straight, now twisted and oblique). It is a description far removed from Pliny’s original text or the embellishments of Solinus, and was to lead Corsi to misidentify this stone.

It appears that Corsi did have a sample of Proconnesian marble in his collection, no 4., a white and grey banded marble, which he thought was from Mount Hymettus. Proconnesian marble comes from the island of Marmara in Turkey, and was used both early and widely in the Roman world. Grand antique was mainly exploited rather later, in the 4th to 6th centuries ii , iii , iv .

S. Cecilia in Trastevere was built in the early 9th century over the site of the house where she lived with her husband, St Valerian, and where she was martyred in 230. The church was greatly altered from the 16th century onwards; in 1823 piers were built to enclose the original columns. Corsi here was probably writing before this, since presumably the work took some time, and it is unlikely that the full beauty of the columns was still apparent.

The grand antique quarries were reopened in the 18th century and only closed in the late 20th century. The twisted pillars around the altar in the chapel of Les Invalides in Paris are fine examples of this stone v .

i. Saumaise (1629) 703-706
ii. Napoleone (2002) 122, 124, notes 48-49
iii. Dodge & Ward-Perkins (1992) 131
iv. Gnoli (1988) 263-264
v. Price (2007) 82-83

126. (54.2) Bianco, e nero di Francia. Marmor Celticum. Marmo Celtico is of the same colours as Proconnesian, it is only the shape of the markings that distinguishes one from the other. Indeed the Celtic never exhibits either white or black in distinct masses, but shows the above-mentioned colours minutely confused amongst each other, and in reticulated form. Paulus Silentiarus 58 with his usual accuracy described marmo Celtico in the way in which I have referred to it. From the name by which the ancients referred to this marble, one may suppose the quarry might have been in the vicinity of Lyons. For this reason it is now called 'bianco, e nero di Francia'. It is seldom found in great masses but in small pieces, and is used freely in the churches of Rome as a veneer. (Rare).

This specimen is petit antique, quarried between neighbouring villages Hèches and Hèchettes, in the French Pyrenees, and distinguished from grand antique (nos. 125, 127) by the smaller size of the fragments and the presence of grey fragments as well as black and white i .

Petit antique was probably used in ancient times. Both petit antique and grand antique would be known in Italy as bianco e nero antico, or marmo d'Aquitania. Less frequently, they are still known as Celtico. The description by Paulus ii 'glittering black upon which the Celtic crags, deep in ice, have poured here and there an abundance of milk' accounts for Corsi's term 'Celtico'.

Its association with Lyon is explained by academic tradition of his time, as expounded by Edward Gibbon iii : 'The government of Aquitaine was extended from the Pyrenees to the Loire. The country between the Loire and the Seine was styled the Celtic Gaul, and soon borrowed a new denomination from the celebrated colony of Lugdunum or Lyons.' Gibbon's work was highly regarded in the early 19th century.

In 1828, Corsi iv uses the subjunctive, showing less assurance that this was the name used by the ancients. He indicates that the marble was presumed to be from the quarry that might be in the area of Lyons.

Petit antique was one of the stones favoured by the Louis XIV for the decoration of the Palace of Versailles.

i. Price (2007) 82-83
ii. Mango (1972) 86
iii. Gibbon (1776), ed. Saunders (1952) v.1, 41
iv. Corsi (1828) 64

127. (54.3) Marmo bianco e nero d' Egitto. Marmor Luculleum. The Consul Lucius Lucullus first introduced into Rome a marble that was named Luculleum after him. It was quarried on an island of the Nile, which some think might have been Meroë, today Gueguere, being the [p55] largest of all the Nile islands, which is the reason that the moderns call it marmo Egitto. Pliny 59 , from whom I have taken the other information on this marble, portrays it as of black colour, with a few long, straight white veins, as can be seen in the specimen that I am describing. The texture is fine and the cement so compact that it could be said to be hard. There are various objects of this marble in the Egyptian Room of the Capitoline Museum. (Rare).

Pliny's account i is as follows: 'Four years after the consulship of this Lepidus [who was the first to lay down door-sills of Numidian marble in his house] came the consulship of Lucius Lucullus, who gave his name to Lucullean marble. He took great delight in this marble and introduced it to Rome, although it is in general black and all other marbles are favoured because of their markings. It is found in the island of Chios and is almost the only marble to have derived its name from a devotee.' The translator, Eichholz regarded the reading of Chios as uncertain and that Mayhoff's reading was 'millo aut nilo aut ilo ceteri codd', thus lending far greater plausibility to Corsi's comments.

Some early 19th century travellers thought that Meroë was a Nilotic island. For example William John Bankes (1786-1855) on discovering historical reliefs of the rock-cut Great Temple of Rameses II at Abul Simbel in 1819, thought that Qadesh, shown surrounded by the river Orontes, was the island of Meroë ii . Pliny iii mentions the island of Meroe in Ethiopia, but Eichholz notes, correctly, that it is in northern Sudan. The ruins of the city (not an island) were discovered in 1821 by the French mineralogist Frédéric Cailliaud.

By 1845, Corsi iv had revised his opinions of bianco e nero di Egitto, describing it in a way which does not match this stone: 'The third variety of the black and white marbles is called di Egitto; and I think correctly, since many idols, statues, and animals of it can be seen in the Egyptian rooms of the Capitoline Museum. This marble never shows either veins or lines, but small round markings of a waxy white (bianco livido) on a very dark black ground. Sometimes if the white and the black are confused, it results in grey markings more or less deeply coloured. The white generally is an aggregate of shells, sometimes decomposed, but very often recognisable. The texture of this marble is compact and fine, and therefore it takes a very beautiful polish.' He no longer correlates it with marmor Luculleum, instead making a correspondence between the Luculleum and marmo bigio morato (see no.140), citing the same passage v .

Most now agree with Gnoli vi that Marmor Luculleum is africano from Teos (see introduction to nos.101-117), although Dvorakowska vii suggests that 'equating the marmor Lucullean with marble from Teos cannot be accepted unequivocally … We cannot discount the possibility of a Chian provenence, nor the earlier theories pointing to the Nile', since ancient quarries of bigio morato and nero antico (dark grey to absolutely black limestones) have been found on the north-east of the island of Chios viii , this may have grounds.

i. Pliny 36.8.50, tr. Eichholz (1962) 39, note c & note 3
ii. Usick (2002) 120
iii. Pliny 37.55, tr. Eichholz (1962) 207
iv. Corsi (1845) 111
v. Corsi (1845) 107
vi. Gnoli (1988) 192-193
vii. Dworakowska (1990) 258
viii. Lazzarini (2003) 155-164

128. (55.4) Bianco e nero di Milano. Black ground waved by dark grey, with many small white markings. (Rare).

129. (55.5) Bianco, e nero di porto Ferrajo. It has a strong resemblance to Proconessian, but although the markings are often large, the, black and white are mixed up. There are eight large columns of this marble in the chapel of S. Domenico in S. Maria sopra Minerva. (Common).

A little more information about this stone is given in the catalogue of the Pescetto Collection in Rome i : 'Bianco e nero di Portoferraio – Marmo nero venato – Pisa'. This entry mentions the same columns in the chapel of S. Domenico, saying that according to tradition they were from an unspecified ancient building.

i. Corpo reale delle Miniere (1904) 64

130. (55.6) Bianco e nero di Monte Pulciano. The ground is black with a few white waves. (Very common).


919. (Suppl.13.1b) Nero del Campidoglio. Black ground, minutely brecciated with white. It is called Campidoglio because in the Egyptian Room of that Museum there are many antique objects of this marble. (Very rare).

920. (Suppl.13.2) Nero lumachellato. Ground a darker black even than the preceding sample, but with white markings of marine creatures. These marbles come from Egypt. (Very rare).


Species VII
Yellow and black marbles (Marmi gialli e neri)


131. (56.1) Pliny 60 referring to a black marble with veins similar to gold, assigns the quarry to the Island of Rhodes, and calls it Rhodian marble (marmo Rodio). The marble known by the moderns under the name of 'giallo, e nero antico' can correspond only to the above-mentioned, since the Latin writers often called the yellow colour by the name of gold. It is very apposite to speak of this marble in such a way, as the veins really are of a yellow so beautiful and so vivid that it could be said they were gilded. The texture is compact, and it takes a very beautiful polish. I do not know if there is another example of this marble in Rome except for the large sculpted mask under the sepulchre of Pope Paul III near the papal throne of the Vatican Basilica. (Very rare).

A yellow and black stone was quarried in Rhodes and used for local architecture, to which Pliny i refers: 'The lysimachos is similar to Rhodian marble with golden-yellow veins (Rhodio marmori similis auratis venis).'

The Sepulchre of Paul III in St Peter's Basilica has a sculpted mask on the body of the monument in this black and gold marble which some had evidently suggested was portoro from Porto Venere in Liguria (see nos. 133-135). Corsi ii (1845) explained the conundrum when he wrote 'Neither could it be said that the mask might have been sculpted in marmo giallo e nero di Porto-Venere, since the mines of this marble were discovered after Gugliemo della Porta had worked on the sepulchre in 1547'.

There is now reasonable evidence that this specimen is from Carrara, in Tuscany, Italy iii . Early accounts of the marbles from Carrara include a black and yellow, which Jervis iv in 1862, wrote was then somewhat inferior. However a painting of the Carrara stone in Adam Wirsing's illustrated multilingual book on marbles v dated 1775 looks strikingly like Corsi's sample, and the great English marble hunter William Brindley vi , who knew the Italian stones well, also stated Carrara as its source. This would explain how the sculpting of the mask could have pre-dated the opening of the portoro quarries at Portovenere later that century.

i. Pliny 37.172, tr. Eichholz (1962) 305
ii. Corsi (1845) 112
iii. Price (2007) 87
iv. Jervis (1862) 5
v. Wirsing (1775)
vi. Porter (c.1905) 34

132. (56.2) Another type of marmo Rodio on the [p57] black ground of which there are golden yellow veins, but smaller, and some white markings. There are two fine columns of this marble in the Salviati Chapel in the church of S. Gregorio sul Monte Celio. (Very rare).

The Cappella Salviati off the left aisle in S. Gregorio Magno on the Celian Hill was restored in the 17th and 18th centuries. Gnoli i opines that the two columns mentioned by Corsi are of bigio antico which is often characterised by veins and inclusions of 'an unexceptional yellow'.

i. Gnoli (1988) 180

133. (57.3) Giallo e nero di Porto Venere. It is the most beautiful of the marbles of this type after the Rhodian, because the veins are of a rich yellow. There are four urns to be seen of it in Buonarroti Chapel in S. Andrea della Valle. (Not common).

134. (57.4) Giallo e nero di Carrara. Less beautiful than the above mentioned, because the veins are of a pallid yellow, and tending towards reddish. (Very common).

135. (57.5) Giallo e nero di Milano. It is not very different from the above, excepting that the yellow veins are few, and small. (Common).

136. (57.6) Giallo e nero di Calabria. Black ground with few yellow and many white veins. The urn in the sepulchre of Cardinal Sfondrati in S. Cecilia in Trastevere is of this marble. (Not common).


Species VIII
Yellow and white marble (Marmo bianco e giallo, Marmor Phengite)

137. (58) Maybe Pliny 61 has not described another marble with as much precision as that which I am discussing. He says that in 'Cappadocia', now Armenia Minor, 'during the Principate of Nero, there was found a stone of the hardness of marble, gleaming white, and resplendent even in those parts where veins of yellow colour were included, and that on account of its resplendence was called Fengite.' This marble takes such a perfect polish that it reflects images like a looking glass. Suetonius 62 relates that 'Domitian', who was as suspicious as he was cruel, 'used to be in the habit of walking through a portico of which the walls were faced with marmo Fengite, in the luminosity of which he used to see the reflection of whomsoever might have been approaching from any direction'. The specimen that I am exhibiting, found recently in [p59] Ostia, has all the characteristics of marmo Fengite, a marble, what is more, until now only known by name, and believed by some people to be statuary marble, and by others alabaster. To that which Pliny said of it I add that it is absolutely compact, opaque at the edges, of uneven fracture, and with a grain of large scales both in the white as well as in the yellowish part. Olao Borricchio 63 wrote that there are the two rare columns of this marble in the church of S. Marco, but they are of the marble 'Tauromenitano'. (Very rare).

Corsi used the words risplendente and risplendenza that could also be translated as shining or sparkling, while Pliny used tralucens (from traluceo = transluceo) meaning shining through or across. Corsi i later discusses at some length the etymology of the words used to describe phengite. Gnoli ii comments on the identification and possible provenance of 'phengite' and also mentions that the columns in S. Marco no longer exist.

i. Corsi (1845) 103-104
ii. Gnoli (1988) 219-220

Species IX
Veined yellow marble (Marmo giallo venato, Marmor Corinthium)

138. (59) Isidorus Hispalensis 64 refers to a yellow marble varied by many tints, but each one similar to the different shades of colour in gum ammoniac, which is called Corinthian because the quarry was near the city. At first the only pieces of this rare marble that were known in Rome [p60] were two small inlays set beneath the pilasters in the second chapel to the left of the church of S. Andrea della Valle. But last year, 1824, several column drums were found in an excavation made on the estate of Monte Calvo in Sabina. That this marble, to which the Italian stonecutters have given the name giallo venato antico, corresponds to the Corinthian anyone could be assured if they compared it with a few pieces of gum ammoniac. The shape of the markings is orbicular, for which reason such marble is well suited for the sculpture of animals. The other observable characteristics correspond to those of giallo antico. (Very rare).

Corsi i (1845) later called this marmo giallo tigrato, the name by which it is known today. It was quarried in Sabina, Italy, on an estate owned by Francesco Capranesi, about 55 km from Via Salaria.

i. Corsi (1845) 105

Species X
Grey marbles (Marmi bigi)

§ I Bigio antico (Bigio antico, Marmor Batthium)

Blasius Caryophilus 65 asserts that the two statues of the captive Dacian kings [p61] with their hands cut off that can be seen in the courtyard of the Palazzo Capitolino might be of marmo Battio. If this is true, which I do not doubt on the authority of a writer who is among all others the most learned in the cognisance of ancient marbles, it is possible to believe that the grey marble of which the two statues are made might correspond to the marble that the ancients called Batthium (Battio). The grey colour results from the union of black and of white that is sometimes divided into patches, bands, and waves, and is sometimes confused together. The grain is generally of large, resplendent scales. The two large columns that ornament the great door of the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme are of the most beautiful type of bigio antico.

There has been considerable confusion about the naming of grey marbles. The Dacian kings to which Caryophilus refers, have heads of an almost black limestone which would today be called bigio morato. Bigio morato and nero antico are very dark grey or black limestones, and their nomenclature is explained by Pensabene and Lazzarini i . The name bigio antico is used for lighter grey marbles and it is now known that these were imported to Rome in considerable quantity from many different locations along the SW coast of Turkey and the islands in the eastern part of the Greek Archipelago ii . In Corsi's time, their source was known, a point he confirms in his Delle Pietre Antiche of 1845 iii .

The name battio was given by scholars some time ago in reference to a legend in Ovid. An old shepherd, Batto, was punished by being turned into an outcrop of hard rock known in antiquity as 'the observatory of Batto'. Gnoli iv thinks this was somewhere in Arcadia, in the Peloponnese.

i. Pensabene & Lazzarini (1998)
ii. Gnoli (1988) 179-180
iii. Corsi (1845) 106
iv. Gnoli (1988) op.cit.


139. (61.1) Bigio morato chiaro. The ground is of a very dark grey, with few, small white markings. Sig. Camillo Focardi, the stonecutter in via della Mercede no. 42, possesses, among other beautiful objects, a large tazza of this marble. (Very rare).


140. (62.2) Bigio morato scuro. Almost black ground with very few lighter lines.

141. (62.3) Bigio ondato. Ground of very dark grey, with lighter waves, and deep yellowish lines. (Rare).

142. (62.4) Bigio brecciato. Ground of dark grey with breccie of a dirty white. Four columns of this marble can be seen in the Borgia Room in the Vatican Museum. (Rare).

143. (62.5) Bigio greco. Mixture of light grey, and white in large scales. (Rare).

144. (62.6) Bigio cipollino. Ground of dark grey with whitish veins. The form of the veins is similar to that of Carystian. (Very rare).

145. (62.7) Bigio Pario. Ground of light grey with whitish waves. It has a grain similar to the statuary marble from Paros. (Rare).

146. (62.8) Bigio onice. Ground of grey, almost black, with waves of the appearance of those in onyx. (Very rare).

147. (62.9) Bigio lumachellato chiaro. Minute mixture of light and dark grey. (Rare).

148. .(62.10) Bigio lumachellato scuro. The appearance of the markings is similar to that of the above, but the tints are darker. (Rare).


149. (63.11) Bigio venato chiaro. Ground of very light grey, with veins verging on cerulean. The superb large lion in the Galleria degli Animali in the Vatican Museum is of this marble. (Rare).


921. (Suppl.14.1) Bigio brecciato. Very pale grey ground with white markings with the appearance of breccie. (Very rare).


§ II Grey Italian marbles (Bigi d' Italia)

Grey marbles are found all over Italy, but the most beautiful and the most varied are those of the Lunegiana area, which are commonly called Bardigli. The ancients made use of these marbles, as Strabo 66 referring to Lunense marbles says that many were completely white, and statuary, but many were mottled and verging on cerulean. Since the quarry was near Liguria they were also called 'Ligurian' (Ligustici). The grain of such marbles is always fine, differing from the ancient in which it is generally scaly.

Lunegiana indicates the Cararra area. Bardiglio is an old name used for grey marbles from the Apuan Alps. Baldinucci, in his Vocabulario Toscano dell'Arti del Disegno of 1681 i spells it 'bargiglio', gives Sarauezza (Seravezza) as the source, and refers to the fine polish that these fine-grained marbles can take, and their availability in any length.

i. Baldinucci (1681) 140


150. (63.1) Cenerino di Bolca in the Veronese area. Light grey, almost monochrome. (Common).


151. (64.2) Cipollino marino from the Lunegiana area. Ground of dark grey with veins of light grey. (Rare).

152. (64.3) Porfido di Sardegna. Ground of grey, almost black, with small markings of a lighter shade. (Rare).

153. (64.4) Bigio di Milano. Light ground with white, and some yellow veins. (Not common).

154. (64.5) Bardiglio fiorito del lago di Como. Light grey, with small markings of a darker grey. (Common).

155. (64.6) Fiorito di Casale in the Veronese area. Ground of very light grey, flowered with white. (Not common).

156. (64.7) Bardiglio chiaro di Carrara. Ground of dirty white, with waves of light grey. (Common).

157. (64.8) Bardiglio venato di Carrara. Ground of clear white, veined with dusky grey. (Common).

158. (64.9) Mischio di Bolca in the Veronese area. Mixture of light and dark grey minutely streaked. (Rare).


159. (65.10) Bardiglio di Padova. Ground of light grey flowered with a darker shade with a very, very small, shiny grain. (Rare).

160. (65.11) Bardiglio scuro di Carrara. Ground of dark grey with lighter markings. (Very common).

Species XI
Sicilian soft jaspers (Diaspri teneri di Sicilia)

Sicily is richer in jaspers than any other place, as well as having coloured marbles, which in the quality of colouring and as well as in the appearance of the marking resemble jasper. In fact it is precisely this resemblance that gave rise to the commonly held paradox of calling the coloured marbles of Sicily 'soft jaspers'. Such marbles, on the other hand, are easy to cut, composed of a calcareous substance, of a very fine grain, and of compact texture. They can be distinguished from other veined marbles by the variety of the markings, by the beautiful polish that they take, and by the unvarying delicacy of the many colours[p66] that they show. I place such marbles among the modern ones because their quarries are still working, but they were assuredly used among the ancients, for many writers have mentioned Tauromenitano, that is marble from Taormina, one of the most well-known, most beautiful, and most varied marbles of Sicily. Many churches in Rome are ornamented with such marbles, and above all that of S. Cattarina di Siena a Monte Magnanapoli. In designating to each marble the common names and locations of the quarries I have followed the admirable work of Conte di Borch 67 on Sicilian lithology

The exact extent to which Corsi followed Borch in his nomenclature of the 'soft jaspers' is not clear, since a number of the localities referred to by Corsi are not mentioned by Borch, rather suggesting that some of the locality information may have come from the agents who supplied the samples to Corsi.

The soft jaspers tend to have a distinctive colour palette of scarlet, red, olive green, buff, and sometimes, violet. This has led to the identification of other samples of markedly different appearance in Corsi's collection (nos. 206, 536, 537) as also being Sicilian soft jaspers.


161. (66.1) Gibillina di Trapani. Ground flesh coloured with reddish markings. (Common).

The village of Gibillina was named from the Arab, or Moorish, word 'gebel' or 'djebel' meaning high place. An earthquake has totally destroyed the village.

162. (66.2) Bianco sporco di Castellamare, dirty white with grey veins. (Common).

163. (66.3) Pedichiusa di Gallo. Red ground with small white, and grey, markings. (Not common).


164. (67.4) Verde di Bisachino. Apple green ground with white waves. (Not common).

165. (67.5) Giallo, e rosso di Castronovo. Yellow ground with red lines. (Rare).

166. (67.6) Verdastro di Lalia. Mixture of white, red, and green. (Not common).

167. (67.7) Breccia di Taormina. Red ground, with white markings. (Rare).

168. (67.8) Rosso di Taormina. Ground of pallid red, with dark red waves similar to the ciottolo d'Egitto . (Very rare).

Ciottolo d'Egitto, known in English as Egyptian jasper, was found as pebbles in the Eastern desert of Egypt. These were cut and polished as souvenirs for tourists especially in the 19th century. They are composed of quartz stained in shades of brown by iron oxides, showing ruin and landscape patterning similar to those of Corsi's argille i .

i. Price (2007) 250

169. (67.9) Rosso fiorito di Taormina. Deep red ground, with yellowish waves. (Very rare).

170. (67.10) Verde del fiume di S. Carlo. Red ground with green and grey markings. (Common).

171. (67.11) Verde del fiume Cefalo. Green ground with white lines. (Not common).

172. (67.12) Pedichiusa di Trapani. Dark red ground with flesh coloured markings. (Not common).

173. (67.13) Rosso, e bianco di Castellamare. Half a pale tawny colour, and half red. (Rare).

174. (67.14) Brecciato di Trapani. Mixture of white, yellow, and green. (Rare).


175. (68.15) Rosso di Trapani. Red ground, with white, and green markings. (Common).

176. (68.16) Rosso della Rocca delli Panni. Dark red ground brecciated with grey and the colour of wood. (Rare).

177. (68.17) Rosso e nero di Taormina. Light red ground, with black and white markings. (Very rare).

178. (68.18) Rosso, e bianco di Taormina. Dark red ground with markings of dirty white and grey. The two columns of this marble in the church of S. Marco, are those that Olao Boricchio thought to be of marmor Fengite. (Rare).

See note for no.135.

Species XII
Veined marbles of Italy (Marmi venati d'Italia)

Under this heading I include all those veined Italian marbles that have not been given a particular name on account of their colour or their quarry, and that show various tints, and various forms of marking.



179. (69.1) Rosso di Malsosina in the Veronese area. Blush pink ground with a few darker veins. (Common).

180. (69.2) Palombino di Sestri. Light grey ground with darker markings, some shells, and a portion of alabaster. (Rare).

181. (69.3) Nembro di S. Giorgio in the Veronese area. Pea-green ground with white markings. Contains a portion of clay. (Not common).

182. (69.4) Rosso di Torri in the Euganean Hills. Rose coloured ground with lighter markings. (Rare).

183. (69.5) Rosso di S. Eligio in the Euganean Hills. Purplish ground with grey markings. (Rare).

184. (69.6) Bianco dell'Alpi. Gleaming white ground veined with a dirty white. (Rare).

185. (69.7) Ceppo scuro del lago di Como. Grey with waves verging on dark green with white veining. (Rare).

186. (69.8) Rosso di Coprino. Reddish ground with yellow veins, and some shells. (Common).

187. (69.9) Marmo di Cottanello in Sabina. [p70] Red ground, verging on purplish, with shiny white veins. The columns that ornament the side aisles of St Peter's in the Vatican are of this marble. (Very common).

Corsi's Cottanello marble is another example of his marmi carnagione i , but brecciated as a result of movement of the rocks along a major fault line that runs through central Italy. Quarries were opened at Cottanello in the early 16th century to supply architect and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini with stone for the pillars of the new basilica of St Peters in the Vatican. It is used in many other buildings in Rome. The stone known as Cottanello antico is very similar but the exact location of the quarries is not known.

i. Price (2007) 112

188. (70.10) Rosso venato di Terni. Ground of blush pink with white veins. (Common).

189. (70.11) Marmo del Duomo. White ground veined with cerulean . It was used a great deal in the construction of the Milan Cathedral, from whence it takes its name. (Common).

Construction of the Duomo of Milan began in the 14th century under the patronage of Duke Gian Galeazzo Visconti and was eventually completed in 1805. Vast quantities of stone were extracted at Candoglia in Piedmont, and transported by means of barges across Lake Maggiore, through Lombardy, and on to Milan through a specially dug canal. Until very recently, the quarries were used exclusively to supply marble for the maintenance of the Duomo. The colour of marmo del Duomo varies from white (as in Corsi's sample) to delicate salmon pink i .

i. Price (2007) 106

190. (70.12) Giallo di Saltrio in the Milanese area. Ground whitish verging on light yellow, with darker veins. (Common).

191. (70.13) Nembro di Monte Baldo in the Veronese area. Grey ground with blush-pink coloured waves. (Common).

192. (70.14) Rosso della Corona in the Milanese area. Ground of blush pink with a few black lines. (Common).

193. (70.15) Rosso degli Appennini. Dark red ground with white veins. (Common).

194. (70.16) Marmo della Gaetta in the Milanese area. Light grey ground with darker waves, and black veins. (Rare).


195. (71.17) Mandolato di Torbe in the Veronese area. Mixture of purple and peachy-colour. (Not common).

196. (71.18) Fior di persico di Torino. Red ground with white and peachy-coloured veins. (Rare).

197. (71.19) Rosso del Ticino. Dark red ground with blackish waves. (Not common).

198. (71.20) Occhiadina di Bergamo. Grey ground flowered with white. (Rare).

199. (71.21) Corso della Mola di S. Ambrogio in the Veronese area. White with rose coloured waves. (Not common).

200. (71.22) Mandolato di Carteletto. White ground with violet coloured waves. (Not common).

201. (71.23) Brentonego in the Veronese area. Violet coloured ground with purplish and yellow markings. (Rare).

202. (71.24) Fior di persico di Seravezza. Purplish ground with red and white veins. (Rare).

203. (71.25) Rosso di Terni. Blush-red with white veins arranged in reticular form. (Rare).

204. (71.26) Rosso di Monte Baldo in the [p72] Veronese area. Vermilion ground with yellow markings. (Very rare).

205. (72.27) Africano della Giazza in the Veronese area. Ground red mixed with purple, veined with white. (Rare).

206. (72.28) Breccia di Canneto in Tuscany. Purplish ground with ash-coloured markings. (Rare).

207. (72.29) Breccia de' Gherardeschi in Tuscany. Red ground veined with dirty white. (Rare).

208. (72.30) Breccia di Francia. Fire-red ground with white markings edged with grey. Brard 68 says this is the beautiful marble of Languedoc at one time used only for the decoration of the royal palaces, however, much of it can be seen in the churches of Rome. The four columns in the second altar to the right in the Church of S. Francesco a Ripa are very beautiful. (Not common).

Rouge Languedoc, also known as Languedoc marble or incarnat is a vibrant red colour with striking patches of white calcite rimmed by grey, structures known as stromatactis that are still not entirely understood by geologists i . The quarries are in a number of locations in the Montagne Noir area of Languedoc, for example at Caunes-Minervois and St Nazaire-de-Ladareze. This marble was worked in ancient times. Brard ii also says this stone is used widely in the Languedoc, in all the churches of Toulouse, and in Paris for the contre-plaques in the churches of Notre-Dame, Saint-Surplice, and Saint-Roch, and for eight decorative columns of the Arc de Triomphe.

Languedoc marble used to be shipped to Carrara, where it was worked before being transported to Rome and other Italian cities where it was also highly esteemed. It is still being quarried and is exported worldwide.

i. Price (2007) 125
ii. Brard (1821) vol.2, 308

209. (72.31) Broccatello di Camerino. Blush pink ground with purplish and white veins. (Very beautiful, and rare).

210. (72.32) Marmorato di Como. Ground of dark grey [p73] ground flowered with light grey. (Not common).

211. (73.33) Verde di Bagnaja on Elba. Green ground with purplish lines. (Rare).

212. (73.34) Colombino roseo from Elba. Ground of blush pink verging on red with white veins. (Rare).

213. (73.35) Colombino della Punta Pino on Elba. A mixture of red, white, and green. (Not common).

214. (73.36) Pavonazzo dell'Alpi. Light purplish ground veined with dark purple. (Very rare).

Section III
Shelly marbles (Marmi lumachelle)

Shelly marbles (marmi conchigliari) and lumachellas (lumachelle) are those made up of the combination of petrified marine bodies in which the forms of these organisms are more or less visibly recognisable. In describing the varieties of lumachella or shelly marble, ancient [p74] as well as modern, besides mentioning the colour and other observable characteristics I shall indicate of which species of marine creature they might be composed, provided that they can be recognised, depending upon the greater or lesser extent of their decomposition. Such marbles generally have a compact texture, and take a very beautiful polish.

Corsi uses conchigliari, from conchiglia meaning shell, in turn derived from Latin concha for seashell. Lumachella means little snail, from lumaca. It is a name used to describe shelly limestones in English as well as Italian. He attempts to identify a number of the constituent shells with varying degrees of success.

Some of the terms used by Corsi are now largely obsolete. He uses 'madrepore' as a general term for fossil coral. The term 'madrepore marble' was used widely in the past for polished coral limestones, for example those of south Devon, in England i . Now 'madrepore' is little used except in the strict sense, for that particular genus. ' Meandrite' is an obsolete name for brain coral. 'Encrinites' and 'entrochites' are both old terms for the fossil ossicles (stem segments) of crinoids ('sea lilies').

Corsi has spelt the Italian for belemnite, a straight-shelled cephalopod, in various ways – 'balamiti' (no. 249), 'belemiti' (nos. 255, 272, 284) and 'balemniti' (no. 285).

i. Price (2007) 171

§ I Ancient lumachellas (Lumachella antica, Marmor chonchyte)

The ancient writers have left us information of only one Greek lumachella to which I shall refer later. In the excavations of Rome, however, there have been found, and are still being found, various types of lumachella that in no way resemble the modern ones, and therefore we must believe that they might have come from Asia or from Africa. Based on this idea the stonecutters in Rome assign the quarries of these marbles capriciously, sometimes to Arabia, sometimes to Egypt, and sometimes to the Thebaid. I observe that these ancient lumachellas were often used [p75] as paving tiles for floors, and I have never seen them in large pieces either worked or rough. It is also noteworthy that the ancient lumachellas are highly regarded for their forms, and for the vividness of their colours.


215. (75.1)Lumachella bianca antica. Marmor Megarense. Pausanias 69 who knew well the region around Megara in Achaia, now known as Livadia, says the quarry 'of a white marble made up of marine shells and of remarkable softness' was near that city. These characteristics are all perfectly combined in the specimen that I exhibit, with as much regard to the gleaming whiteness as to the softness, on account which it only takes a mediocre polish. Comparing then the text of Pausanias with the stone I am describing, it seems there can be no doubt that the marble [p76] of Megara corresponds to the lumachella that the stonecutters call white and ancient. (Very rare).

Achaia here refers to mainland Greece. Ancient, Megara, now ruined, is opposite Salamis on the coast between Eleusis and Corinth. It was an important city before the 5th century BC, when Athens superseded it.

216. (76.2) Lumachella gialla. Ground of orange yellow, with straw-coloured and purplish markings. (Very rare).

217. (76.3) Occhio di pavone pavonazzo. The shells contained in this marble exhibit a circular form in whichever plane it is cut, and it is for this reason the stonecutters call it occhio di pavone. Linneaus 70 for the same reason called it marmor ocellatum. The shells that go to make it up are of the species Anomia ampulla in whatever variety. The sample shown has a purplish ground, and the shells are of a dirty white. There is only one column drum in Rome of this marble, which lies neglected, stuck in the ground in via Belsiana, where strada Frattina passes into strada Condotti. (Very rare).

Linnaeus i classified this stone as: 'Earths, Calcareous, Variegated - with bands: Marmor ocellated, Occhio di pavone'. The Appendix to vol. 7, Explanation of terms, explains further: 'Occelate, applied to eye-like spots which are surrounded with a ring of a different colour called the iris, and often enclosing one or more lesser spots called the pupil.'

i. Linné (1806), tr. Turton v.7, 93

218. (76.4) Occhio di Pavone bianco. Grey ground with white shells. (Very rare).

219. (76.5) Occhio di Pavone nero. Black ground with grey shells. (Very rare).


220. (77.6) Occhio di Pavone rosso. Light red ground with white shells. (Very rare).

221. (77.7) Occhio di Pavone bigio. Light grey ground with white shells. (Very rare).

222. (77.8) Occhio di Pavone roseo. White ground with rose coloured shells. (Very rare).

223. (77.9) Astracane dorato. The stonecutters give this name to a lumachella of which I know four varieties. The most beautiful and rarest of all is the one shown, because being made up of shells that are of a very beautiful yellow truly resembling gilding. White and purple are to be seen in it as well. Among the shells, Turbo and a few fragments of Cardium can be distinguished. Brongniart 71 , on the authority of Sig. Patrin, insists that this lumachella was not found in the neighbourhood of Astrakan, and Brard, 72 endorsing the opinion of Sig. Leman maintains that the city of Agra in India could be the home of this precious marble. There is one superb tazza of it in Rome in the possession of Sig. Gaspere Gabrielli, whom I have already mentioned. (Very rare).

This lumachella comes from Henchir, Kasbat, Tunisia, and should not be confused with the stone from India to which Brard was referring, a remarkably beautiful bright yellow shelly limestone called Jaisalmer marble, quarried at Jaisalmer, Rajputana, India. Both stones are illustrated by Price (2007) i .

i. Price (2007) 160

224. (78.10) Astacane maschio. Ground of light green verging on yellowish with shells of a darker green, and some red markings. All the balusters of the high altar in the church of S. Andrea della Valle are of this marble. (Very rare).

It was quite common to use the term 'masculine' for a darker, stronger colour, and 'feminine' for a paler, more delicate one.

225. (78.11) Astracane femina. In form it is similar to the above, but, as the colour is paler it is commonly called feminine to distinguish it from the richer more richly coloured masculine. (Rare).

226. (78.12) Astracane carnino. Ground verging on rose colour, with white shells. (Very rare).

227. (78.13) Stellaria orientale. White ground with deep green-blue and red. A radiating madrepore appears under each colour. A very beautiful specimen, (of extraordinary rarity).

228. (78.14) Lumachella minuta d'Egitto. Jumble of fragments of edible oyster in very tiny pieces of bluish-grey and white. (Very rare).

229. (78.15) Lumachella grande d'Egitto. [p79] Similar to the above mentioned but with larger pieces. The cuirass of the bust of Gordianus Junior in the Capitoline Museum, Stanza degl' Imperatori, no. 61, is of this beautiful marble. (Very rare).

Gnoli says that the lumachella used in the bust is from near Thurburbo Maius (modern Tunisia). It is illustrated by both Gnoli i and Borghini ii .

i. Gnoli (1988) pl.291
ii. Borghini (1997) 242, pl.89b

230. (79.16) Lumachella nera. Black ground with various white shells, showing fragments of flattened Anomia and of tellins. There is only a veneered band of this marble, in the last altar to the left of the church of S. Agostino. (Very rare).

231. (79.17) Lumachellone antico. Grey ground with large white shells representing the Triton's trumpet. This new lumachella was found in the excavations on the estate of Tormarancio. (Very rare).

A Triton was minor sea-god in Greek mythology that was often depicted in Roman relief decoration as a man with a fish-tail carrying a trident and a shell trumpet (buccino). The large shell cut across the body in artistic representations is reminiscent of a whelk such as Buccinum undatum.

232. (79.18) Lumachella rossa. Light red ground with many white shells all of the same size of less than a minuto wide and one oncia long. While I write this, it has been found in an excavation, and because of its novelty it could be said to be (unique).

In Corsi's time the length of an oncia depended on what was being measured and where this was being done. Each city or province had its own variations. In Rome, an oncia for most purposes was 18.617mm i .

i. O'Brien

§ II Italian lumachellas (Lumachelle d'Italia)


233. (80.1) Lumachella di Prato. Peachy-grey ground with fragments of white shells. (Not common).

234. (80.2) Lumachella di Menagio on Lake Como. Dirty yellowish ground with entirely decomposed dark grey shells. (Rare).

235. (80.3) Lumachella di Stalavena. Mixture of grey and yellow in waves. (Rare).

236. (80.4) Lumachella di Lugano. Ground of a green the colour of the olive leaf, with large Turbo of a deeper green. (Rare).

Turbo is a genus of gastropods, and are commonly called turban shells.

237. (80.5) Lumachella di Ancona. White ground with gleaming white shells that represent fragments of Anomia. (Rare).

Anomia is a very thin-shelled member of the oyster family.

238. (80.6) Lumachella del Ticino. Mixture of light and dark yellow with shells similar to encrinites. (Rare).

239. (80.7) Lumachella di Pigozzo in the Venetian area. Grey ground with fragments of white madrepore. (Rare).


240. (81.8) Lumachelle di Abruzzo. Grey ground with a large white edible oyster. (Rare).

241. (81.9) Occhiadino di Como. Dark green ground with whelks bordered by lighter green, and white and red lines of calcium carbonate. (Rare).

242. (81.10) Lumachella di Napoli. Grey ground with fragments of oyster and white Turbo terebra. (Rare).

Turbo terebra is a slender high spired gastropod now called Turritella terebra, or colloquially, the tower shell.

243. (81.11) Lumachella di Domagiano. Ground of grey saccharoidal calcium carbonate, with decomposed yellow shells. (Not common).

244. (81.12) Lumachella di Trento. Light grey ground with encrinites of a darker grey. (Rare).

245. (81.13) Lumachella del Monte Rosso, in the Venetian area. Mixture of flesh colour and grey in waves. (Rare).

246. (81.14) Lumachella di Lipari. Grey ground with small, thick fragments of almost black oysters. (Rare).

247. (81.15) Lumachella di Genova. Deep blue grey [p82] ground with flesh coloured nummulites. (Very rare).

The name 'nummulite' comes from the Latin nummulus meaning little coin, and describes the flat disc-like shape of these large fossil foraminifera very well.

248. (82.16) Lumachella della Pernice near Lake Como. Jumble of fragments of yellowish grey oysters. (Rare).

249. (82.17) Lumachella di Brescia. Purplish ground with white belemnites. (Rare).

250. (82.18) Marmo della Gaetta on Lake Como. Ground yellow verging on green, with totally decomposed purplish shells. (Rare).

251. (82.19) Travertino di Monte Catini in Tuscany. Dark grey ground with encrinites of a lighter grey. (Not common).

252. (82.20) Verdesino della Giazza in the Euganean Hills. Dark grey ground verging on deep blue with a few shattered pieces of black shells. (Not common).

253. (82.21) Lumachella di Fuligno. Ground of peachy colour with fragments of grey shells, and white stripes. (Rare).

254. (82.22) Lumachella di Vialeta near Verona. Faded yellowish green ground with purplish encrinites. (Rare).


255. (83.23) Moregia di S. Ambrogio, near Vincenza. Dirty white with white belemnites. (Not common).

256. (83.24) Lumachella del Monte Rosso in the Euganean Hills. Deep yellow ground with fragments of dirty white shells. (Not common).

257. (83.25) Lumachella di Torino. Ground of burnt ochre with marine products that take on the appearance of plant lichens. (Rare).

258. (83.26) Lumachella degli Appennini. Deep greenish grey ground, with black markings and white shells. (Common).

259. (83.27) Ovara bigia di Bolca near Verona. Dark grey ground with very tiny fragments of whitish shells. (Rare).

260. (83.28) Schisto bianco di Bolca near Verona. Light grey ground with white meandrite madrepore, similar to mosaic work. (Very rare).

261. (83.29) Schisto bigio di Bolca near Verona. Dark grey ground with very small nummulites of a lighter grey. (Very rare).


262. (84.30) Ovara bianca di Bolca near Verona. Light grey ground with white nummulites. (Very rare).

263. (84.31) Cenerino di Bolca near Verona. Dark ashy grey aggregate of microscopic shells. (Very rare).

264. (84.32) Lumachella di Milano. Ground of faded yellowish grey with black fragments of edible oysters. (Rare).

265. (84.33) Lumachella di Lugo in the Euganean Hills. Ground of light grey, and in other respects similar to the one above. (Rare).

266. (84.34) Lumachella rossa di Verona. Ground of light purplish colour with fragments of unidentifiable shells. (Rare).

267. (84.35) Sanvital di Lugo. Greenish grey ground with fragments of shells in the form of stripes. (Not common).

268. (84.36) Castagne pietrificate di Milano. Red ground with white encrinites. (Very rare).

The shape of the mollusc shells perhaps reminded Corsi of chestnuts (castagni), or this might have been a local name for the stone.

269. (84.37) Lumachella di Calabria. Dark grey ground with white fragments of Nerite costata. (Rare).


270. (85.38) Lumachella delle Alpi. Mixture of yellow and purplish, with white veins, and fragments of encrinites. (Rare).

271. (85.39) Lumachella di Milano. Ground of a greenish yellow, with fragments of light yellow shells. (Rare).

272. (85.40) Lumachella del Ticino. Purplish ground with white belemnites. (Rare).

273. (85.41) Sanvital sopra Costagie in the Euganean Hills. Green ground verging on yellow with fragments of shells in the form of bands. (Rare).

274. (85.42) Rosso di Castelletto near Verona. Dark red ground with a few fragments of unidentifiable shells. (Rare).

275. (85.43) Lumachella di Canova. Light grey ground with white nummulites. This marble is quarried in the Euganean Hills, and in Rome it is called Canova's marble, because the eminent sculptor often used it for the base of his monuments, as can be seen in the tombs of the churches of S. Pietro and of SS. Apostoli. (Common).


276. (86.44) Lumachella di Frascati. Red ground with unidentifiable white shells. (Common).

277. (86.45) Marmo conchigliare giallo delle Alpi. Ground of golden yellow with a few white spines of sea-urchins. (Very rare).

278. (86.46) Marmo conchigliare rosso di Roma. Dark red ground with fragments of Cardium and Dentalium. (Rare).

Cardium and Dentalium are the cockle and the tusk shell respectively.

279. (86.47) Lumachella di Volpicella, in the Venetian area. Yellow ground with nummulitesof a different yellow. (Rare).

280. (86.48) Stellaria bianca di Verona. Grey ground with white madrepores. (Very rare).

281. (86.49) Meandrite di Verona. White ground with tortuous reddish madrepores. (Very rare).

282. (86.50) Stellaria rossa di Verona. White ground with red madrepore. (Very rare).

283. (86.51) Broccatello di Casale in the Veronese area. Yellow ground with fragments of seashells, and visible madrepore. (Very rare).

284. (86.52) Lumachella di Ash near [p87] Monyash in England. Peachy-grey ground with encrinites and white belemnites. (Not common).

In this specimen, Corsi has confused crinoid stems cut tangentially with belemnites.

Nos.284 to 289 are among the samples given to Corsi by William Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire. His mother, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, introduced him to mineralogy, in which she had a strong interest. The Duke visited Rome in 1819, 1823 and 1824, and on three other occasions.

285. (87.53) Lumachella di Sheldon-Moore in England. Grey ground with plainly visible belemnites, and white encrinites. One of the most beautiful lumachellas that exists. (Very rare).

286. (87.54) Persichino di Oneash near Moneyash in England. Peachy coloured ground with white entrochites. (Not common).

287. (87.55) Lumachella di Devonshire. Grey ground with speckles of dirty white, and unidentifiable shells. (Common).

Corsi may have been understandably confused that the Duke of Devonshire's estates – and marble quarries – were in Derbyshire. The source is most probably one of two quarries of Hopton Wood Marble i , on land belonging then to the Gell family, near Middleton by Wirksworth, in Derbyshire. Its use in Kedleston Hall, near Derby, famous for having been completed by Robert Adam and his brothers, was influential in its popularity.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, after its use by Robert Adam at Kedleston Hall, the stone was often featured architecturally and in polished tables. The 6th Duke of Devonshire used it in the north wing of Chatsworth House between 1820-27. Corsi's block is likely to have been an off-cut from this work.

i. I. Thomas pers. comm.

288. (87.56) Stellaria nera di Milners Rale in England. Black ground with shining grey madrepores. Beautiful and (very rare) in this size.

Both nos. 288 and 289 are from Miller's Dale near Tideswell, in Derbyshire. They would have been rare, and hand-picked from small limestone quarries of the area that were mainly producing stone for lime burning i . The fossils are mostly an extinct genus of colonial corals called Lithostrotian, and are of Lower Carboniferous age, around 325 to 360 million years old.

i. I. Thomas pers. comm.

289. (87.57) Stellaria nera di Milners Rale, near Diswell in England. Black ground with grey reticulate madrepores. (Very rare).

The quarries of these lumachellas are on the estates of the Duke of Devonshire, who has honoured [p88] this collection with a visit, and also enriched it with precious gifts. It is my duty to make to His Grace this public acknowledgement of appreciation.

290. (88.58) Lumachella del Ticino. Grey ground with whitish Anomia complanata, and a horn of Ammon in visible relief on the underside. (Very rare).

The 'horn of Ammon' is an ammonite standing proud from the base of the specimen. The name 'ammonite' is derived from this mythological source.

291. (88.59) Mischio scuro di Lugo. Grey ground with markings of whitish saccharoidal calcium carbonate, spines of dark sea urchins and other shell fragments. (Rare).

292. (88.60) Lumachella rossa di Milano. Red ground with fragments of white encrinites. (Rare).

293. (88.61) Marmo conchigliare di Monte Mario near Rome. Grey ground with a white jacobee. (Common).


922. (Suppl.14.1b) Lumachella di Bolca. Light grey ground covered with shelled snails of a darker grey. The specimen is extremely strange, beautiful, and (rare).


Section IV
Concretionary marbles (Marmi concrezioni)

Species I
Alabasters (Alabastri)

This generic expression includes marbles built up by concretion that have calcium carbonate as a base, of which I shall show the different types. The process of their formation is thus: the water that passes through calcareous soils is usually laden with calcium carbonate. This drips from the vaults of the caves that it frequently encounters. Contact with the air and the resulting evaporation make this stony salt build up into a small tube that grows little by little, and by a process of accretion it becomes full of molecules of calcium carbonate. Mineralogists know the concretions formed in this way by the name of stalactites, and those [p90] that can take a polish are called alabaster. The same water depositing calcium carbonate on the floor and the walls of the cave form strata that continually enlarge, and form masses that are the stalagmites of the mineralogists. In the passage made by the water over the earth it encounters, it is combined with colouring matter that percolates together with the calcium carbonate, and the result of this happening is that many alabasters are seen to be made up of very fine lines of various colours. The texture of the alabasters is generally compact, but not infrequently one comes across some spaces caused by irregular dripping of the water.

§ I Ancient alabaster (Alabastro antico, Marmor alabastrum)

The ancients named the different alabasters according to the different localities of the quarries. That which was formed of various strata and showing various colours was called 'onyx', which in Greek means nail, almost having a resemblance [p91] to human nails. Theophrastus 73 assigned the quarry of this marble to the Thebaid, a region of ancient Egypt centred on the city of Thebes (the modern city of Luxor). To this species of alabaster belong those commonly called flowered, eyed, cloudy, and icy. Pliny 74 mentioned an alabaster sometimes of gleaming white, and sometimes verging on light flaxen colour, and said it was found near Damascus in Siria, today Syria. On account of the proximity of this Province to Arabia Felix, it was also called 'Arabico'. To this species belong the white alabasters, and the so-called quince-coloured. What is more, they were all held in very high regard by the ancients, and with good reason, for not one European alabaster either equalled or even approached those of Asia or Africa, which consistently have a compact texture, an extraordinary vividness and variety of colour, and are susceptible to taking a very beautiful polish.

More specifically, Theophrastus i wrote: 'There is also the alabastrites (άλαβαστρίτης) found in Thebes in Egypt - this too can be worked in large blocks – and the stone resembling ivory which is called chernites (χερυίτης).' The editors note that alabastrites is in all probability onyx marble, and chernites a variety of it.

The name 'alabaster' was given because the stone was used in making small jars of distinctive shape (άλαβαστροι, alabastroi) used for storing valuable, scented oil. Gnoli ii discusses the etymology of the word at some length. Subsequently it has been called oriental alabaster or onyx marble. All these names have potential for confusion as they are traditionally used for other kinds of stone by geologists. According to modern mineralogical terminology alabaster is a compact fine-grained variety of gypsum (like, for example, nos. 544-546), while onyx is a variety of agate, a form of quartz (not shown in Corsi's collection).

i. Theophrastus 6, tr. Caley & Richards (1956) 46
ii. Gnoli (1988) 215, note 2


294. (92.1) Cotognino venato. Ground of quince colour with a white line dividing it lengthways. This is the intensity of colour most highly regarded. (Very rare).

295. (92.2) Alabastro bianco. Milk white alabaster with a whiter marking edged with a red line. (Very rare).

296. (92.3) Cotognino bigio with an eye in the centre bordered with many lines of various shades of white. (Very rare).

297. (92.4) Cotognino schietto. Entirely of a white verging on flaxen. (Rare).

298. (92.5) Cotognino venato. Ground yellowish with many shiny white veins. (Very rare).

299. (92.6) Cotognino listato. Pale citron coloured ground with yellow veins and some grey. (Very rare).

300. (92.7) Cotognino scuro. Ground of white verging on dull green, with blush pink waves. The bust of Septimus Severus in the Capitoline Museum, in the Stanza degl' Imperatori (no. 48) is of this marble. (Very rare).

The bust of Septimus Severus is not mentioned by Corsi i in Delle Pietre Antiche though he does mention alabastro cotognino. For an illustration of the bust see Mattei ii and Gnoli iii where the clamide is now said to be of 'alabastro verdognolo trasparente'.

i. Corsi (1845) 130-131
ii. Mattei (2002) 328-329
iii. Gnoli (1988) pl.290

301. (93.8) Alabastro a occhi. Yellow ground with white eyes, and grey veins. (Very rare).

302. (93.9) Cotognino a onde. Ground of a dull reddish white with grey waves. The famous urn that used to contain the ashes of Augustus in the Galleria de' Candelabri no. 1695 in the Vatican Museum is of this marble. (Very rare).

303. (93.10) Alabastro a occhi. Ground of deep yellow, with dull reddish-grey eyes and white veins. There is a vase of this marble in the Galleria de' Candelabri (no. 1451). (Very rare).

304. (93.11) Alabastro fiorito. Snow white ground with lines of a dirty white. There is a large column of this marble in the room of the Dying Gladiator in the Capitoline Museum. (Rare).

305. (93.12) Alabastro fiorito. Grey ground with paler lines. (Rare).

306. (93.13) Alabastro fiorito. Yellow ground with many white and grey lines. The superb fluted column twenty-seven palms high that can be seen in the Villa Albani is of this type. (Rare).


307. (94.14) Alabastro fiorito. Grey ground with dark lines. (Very rare).

308. (94.15) Alabastro fiorito. Peachy coloured ground with bluish lines. (Very rare).

309. (94.16) Alabastro fiorito. Honey coloured ground with very fine lines of various shades of the same colour. Pliny[ 75 ] says that this alabaster, which he called 'Melleo', was the most highly regarded of all. (Very rare).

310. (94.17) Alabastro fiorito. Green ground with dull whitish lines. Two very beautiful columns of this marble can be seen in the Palazzo Altemps. (Very rare).

311. (94.18) Alabastro di Palombara. Commonly so called because it was found in the excavations of the Villa Palombara. Chestnut coloured ground with minute lines of white, and many other colours. (Very rare).

Villa Palombara, a 16th century villa on the Esquiline, was destroyed at the end of the 19th century for the building of Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele i .

i. Napoleone (2001) 128, note 91

312. (94.19) Alabastro a onice. Dark grey ground with white, red and ash-coloured veins. (Very rare).

313. (94.20) Alabastro a onice. White ground with grey lines. There is a beautiful [p95] vase of this stone in the palace of the Villa Albani. (Very rare).

314. (95.21) Alabastro a rosa. This type is so called because of the large rose-shaped markings. This specimen has a purplish ground bordered with white and yellow. The remarkable large stag in the Galleria degli Animali in the Vatican Museum is of this marble. It is extraordinarily beautiful, and (very rare).

315. (95.22) Alabastro a rosa. Quince coloured ground edged with red, with a mark like a large rose. (Very rare).

316. (95.23) Alabastro a rosa. Chestnut coloured ground edged with a yellowish colour. The rose is even larger. (Very rare).

317. (95.24) Alabastro a rosa. Deep yellow ground edged with purple. (Very rare).

318. (95.25) Alabastro a rosa. White edged with rose-pink. (Rare).

319. (95.26) Alabastro sardonico. So-called because it resembles sardonyx. This specimen is half white and half amethyst colour divided [p96] by a white vein and another red one. The Messrs. Cartoni Brothers, dealers in objets d'art in the via Fontanella di Borghese no. 35, own two tables of this variety, that could be said to be unique, eight palms long, five palms wide, and nearly half a palm thick. (Very rare).

320. (96.27) Alabastro a giaccione. Like ice, red all over with a few yellowish veins. (Very rare).

321. (96.28) Alabastro a giaccione. Grey ground with yellow veins. There is a tazza of this marble in the Galleria de' Candelabri of the Vatican Museum no. 1604. (Very rare).

322. (96.29) Alabastro a giaccione. Honey-yellow ground with a few dull reddish, translucent veins. (Rare).

323. (96.30) Alabastro a nuvole. White ground with yellow veins, and red in the shape of clouds. (Rare).

324. (96.31) Alabastro a nuvole. Faded yellow ground, veined and striped with white. (Rare).

325. (96.32) Alabastro a nuvole. Peach coloured with white marks edged with red. (Rare).


326. (97.33) Alabastro a pecorella. This name is commonly given to alabaster with markings that are evenly rounded and equidistant, that almost seem to resemble a flock of sheep in two-dimensional form. This sample has a faded yellow ground with minute markings of pallid red. (Rare).

327. (97.34) Alabastro a pecorella. Dull whitish ground with minute markings of fire-red. (Rare).

328. (97.35) Alabastro a pecorella. White ground with purplish markings. (Rare).

329. (97.36) Alabastro a pecorella. White ground with minute red dendritic markings. (Very rare).

330. (97.37) Alabastro a pecorella. Red ground with white markings decidedly suggesting a peacock. (Very rare).

331. (97.38) Alabastro a pecorella. Blood red ground with large white markings lined with light red. The imperial mantle on the bust of Vespasian, in the Stanza degl' Imperatori in the Capitoline Museum no.19 is of this stone. (Very rare).

This bust is illustrated by Napoleone i .

i. Napoleone (2001) 67

332. (98.39) Alabastro a pecorella. Blood red ground with less richly coloured markings. This specimen is not only (very rare), but perhaps (unique).

333. (98.40) Alabastro a pecorella. Rose-coloured ground with small linear markings like onyx. This is one of the most delicate and most beautiful types of alabaster. (Very rare).


923. (Suppl.14.1) Alabastro sardonico. Ground [suppl.p15] rose-coloured with large red veins similar to sardonyx. There is a vase of this alabaster in the Vatican Museum, Galleria de' Candelabri no. 1485. (Very rare).

924. (Suppl.15.2) Alabastro listato. Red ground with big rose-coloured, green, and white stripes. Of this very beautiful type is the robe on a small statue in the Vatican Chiaramonti Museum no. 481. Extremely beautiful and (rare).

925. (Suppl.15.3) Alabastro a pecorella. White ground with many red and purplish lines. Very beautiful and (very rare).

926. (Suppl.15.4) Alabastro a pecorella. Blush pink ground entirely flowered by a beautiful red. (Very rare).

927. (Suppl.15.5) Alabastro a nuvole. Red ground verging on purple, with white cloud shaped markings. (Very rare).

928. (Suppl.15.6) Alabastro a tartaruca. Yellowish ground with veins of white and of the colour of wood. (Rare).

Tartaruca is now spelt tartaruga and means tortoise, alluding to the tortoiseshell appearance of this stone.

929. (Suppl.15.7) Alabastro sardonico. Mixture of white and red, similar to sardonyx. (Very rare).

930. (Suppl.15.8) Alabastro fortezzino. Quince coloured ground with various triangles made up of minute [suppl.p16] white and yellow lines similar to a fortress. Very beautiful and (very rare).

931. (Suppl.16.9) Alabastro cotognino. Quince coloured ground, with rose-coloured markings lined with white. (Rare).

932. (Suppl.16.10) Alabastro dorato. Purplish ground covered with veins of a yellow similar to gold. (Perhaps unique).

933. (Suppl.16.11) Alabastro cotognino. Blush pink with markings verging on golden yellow. Beautiful and (rare).

934. (Suppl.16.12) Alabastro erborizzato. Ground a mixture of white and red covered with black dendrites. Very beautiful and absolutely (unique).

935. (Suppl.16.13) Alabastro verde. Very clear stalactite of a pale pea-green. There is a single bust, in Rome, representing Ottone, which is in the Vatican Museum, Camera degl'Imperatori no. 837. (Very rare).

936. (Suppl.16.14) Alabastro giallo. Ground of deep yellow with waves of a lighter yellow, and some shells. I only know of a small base of this species supporting a calf's head, in the [suppl.p17] Chiaramonti Museum, in the Vatican no.389. (Very rare).

937. (Suppl.17.15) Alabastro fiorito. Dark ground with many white lines and red ones in various shades. The sculpted leopard in the Vatican Museum, Galleria degli Animali is of this type. (Very rare).

§ II Italian alabasters (Alabastri d'Italia)


334. (98.1) Alabastro bigio di Volterra. Stalactite formed of many tiny lines showing various shades of grey. (Not common).

335. (98.2) Alabastro di Sestri. Yellow ground with waves of deeper yellow. (Rare).

336. (98.3) Mischio di Mizolle. Grey ground with dull whitish veins. (Not common).

337. (98.4) Alabastro di Cremona. Ground dull reddish with white veins. (Not common).

338. (98.5) Alabastro di Stalavena near [p99] Verona. Yellowish red ground with purplish waves.

339. (99.6) Alabastro di Palermo. This specimen is partly composed of dull greyish alabaster, and partly of lumachella. (Not common).

340. (99.7) Giora di Mizolle. An alabaster similar to the cotognino scuro from Arabia, but less vivid. (Not common).

341. (99.8) Rosso dell'Alsenaso in the Panteno valley. Red ground with yellow veins. (Rare).

342. (99.9) Alabastro screziato di S. Primo in the Milanese area. Greenish yellow ground with white veins. (Common).

343. (99.10) Giosa del ponte del Vezia in the Venetian area. Similar to alabastro a giaccione antico. (Rare).

344. (99.11) Alabastro scuro di Collepardo. The formation is lamellar, the corners transparent, and of beautiful a golden yellow. (Common).

345. (99.12) Alabastro bianco di Collepardo. The formation is similar to the above, but entirely transparent. (Common).


346. (100.13) Alabastro di Pisa. Mixture of white, and grey with yellow veining. (Not common).

347. (100.14) Alabastro di Perugia. Dull reddish grey ground with white lines, and dull reddish waves. (Not common).

348. (100.15) Alabastro di Siena. Dove coloured ground with white eyes. (Not common).

349. (100.16) Alabastro di Pierosora near Fabriano. Colour of golden flaxen colour, and transparent. (Rare).

350. (100.17) Alabastro di Camerino. Dull reddish grey ground with lighter, cloud like, markings. (Not common).

351. (100.18) Alabastro bianco d'Orte near Viterbo. Very light flaxen colour, and transparent. This and the two following specimens resemble ancient alabasters for their vividness and beauty more than the others. (Rare).

352. (100.19) Alabastro dorato d'Orte. A very beautiful type, in colour similar to gold, and transparent. In the Vatican Museum there is a cuirass in Galleria degli Animali of it, and a vase in the Galleria de Candelabri distinguished by the number 1485. (Very rare).

Corsi also mentioned the vase with this number as of the same stone as no. 923, Alabastro sardonico. As these marbles do not look alike, it may be a typographic error.


353. (101.20) Alabastro eburneo d'Orte. The stone is very similar to ivory by means of its whiteness and some light veining and transparency in the corners. Although it is extremely compact, it cleaves along very fine lines. (Very rare).

354. (101.21) Alabastro di Montauto on the border of Tuscany. In colour it resembles dark sardonyx with large waves. Eight columns of it can be seen in the Gabinetto of the Vatican Museum. (Not common).

355. (101.22) Another from the same quarry with more lines and paler. (Less common).

356. (101.23) Another, similar to the above, one half is light, and one half dark. (Rare).

357. (101.24) Another, similar to the above verging on grey, with veins like tortoiseshell. (Very rare).

358. (101.25) Another similar to the above, verging on dull greenish yellow with minute lines. (Rare).

359. (101.26) Alabastro di Busca in Piedmont of chestnut colour lined, and waved by white. (Very rare).

360. (101.27) Another from the same place of a [p102] red colour verging on yellow with waves like sardonyx. (Very rare).

361. (102.28) Alabastro di Brescia. Dark ground with grey stripes. (Common).

362. (102.29) Alabastro di Napoli. Red ground with white veins. (Not common).

363. (102.30) Alabastro di Torrita. Ground like sardonyx with reddish white veins. (Not common).

364. (102.31) Alabastro di Sarzana. Striped with white and red. (Common).

365. (102.32) Alabastro di Trento. Ground of deep yellow with paler lines. (Common).

366. (102.33) Alabastro di Val Pantano in the Veronese area. Mixture of white and red with some shell fragments. (Not common).

367. (102.34) Alabastro di S. Felicita. Lined with red and dirty white. (Not common).

368. (102.35) Alabastro di Milano. Striped with red, and yellow. (Rare).

369. (102.36) Alabaster di Collepardo. Entirely transparent white. (Common).

370. (102.37) Alabastro di Monte Alcino in [p103] Tuscany. Entirely pallid red, and transparent. (Rare).

371. (103.38) Alabastro di Civitavecchia. Mixture of peachy grey and white. In the Galleria de' Candelabri of the Vatican Museum there are four columns of it. (Common).

372. (103.39) Alabastro di Ashford in England. Black ground with lines of a slightly lighter shade. (Very rare).

This and no. 373 are a bituminous algal limestone known as rosewood marble because of the likeness to natural rosewood, which was popular for furniture of the time. Corsi appears to have mistaken it for an alabaster because of the fine banding. The stone was obtained from mines between Ashford in the Water and Sheldon in Derbyshire i .

i. I. Thomas pers. comm.

373. (103.40) Another with black ground, and waves of dark grey. (Very rare).

Like no. 372, this sample is a bituminous algal limestone known as rosewood marble from mines between Ashford in the Water and Sheldon in Derbyshire. It is cut parallel to the bedding so the banding is most clearly visible on the sides of the specimen. Nos. 372 and 373 show particularly well how different appearances can be obtained simply by cutting a stone in a different orientation.

374. (103.41) Alabastro di Sabina. All white, but not transparent. (Rare).

375. (103.42) Alabastro di Pool Hole near Buxton in England. Brown stalactite combined with calcium carbonate, and lead. (Rare).

376. (103.43) Alabastro di Middleton near Wirkswortt in England. Very white stalactite combined with magnesium calcium carbonate. (Rare).

One of the suggested provenances i of this stone is 'Alabaster mine' (still remembered in the local road name 'Alabaster Lane'). Primarily a lead mine, it was between Middleton-by-Wirksworth and Cromford.

i. I. Thomas pers. comm.

938. (Suppl.17.1) Alabastro di Palestrina. Dark grey ground waved minutely with a lighter grey. This alabaster was formed inside travertine. (Very rare).

939. (Suppl.17.2) Alabastro di S. Felice. Light grey ground verging on dull reddish, lined with a darker grey. It was found near S. Felice in Circeo. (Common).

940. (Suppl.17.3) Alabastro di Montauto. Tawny ground marked with light grey in cloud shapes. (Rare).

941. (Suppl.17.4) Pietro perlea di Trento. Quince-coloured, marked with red. It reflects light like the oriental pearl. Very beautiful, and (rare).


Species II
Tartari (Tartari)

The tartari are in principle the same as the alabasters, but are not formed by the same process. They are only a deposit of calcium carbonate from which the water has evaporated, but instead of being formed by dripping water, they originate from the precipitation of calcium carbonate produced by fine sprays of water, therefore tartari are found near large springs, and even more often near the falls of rivers. The water falling from a height breaks with impetus on the rocks and then ascends in the form of aeriform liquid, and on falling back, leaves deposits in the form of tartaro. Whoever has not seen the famous grotto of Neptune in Tivoli where the Aniene falls, surrounded by great masses of tartaro? The same thing is to be seen about the falls of the Velino near Terni. At the baths of S. Filippo near Ricorsi in Tuscany very exact natural bas-reliefs can be obtained[p105] if a mould is left under the sprays of the water for four months. Although tartari are inferior to alabaster because of their lack of variety and brightness of colour, and particularly the lack of translucency, nevertheless there are some which are very compact, and take a beautiful polish.

Corsi's tartari are very finely crystalline compact travertine deposits. They are probably so-named because they look similar to 'tartar', potassium tartrate deposits that form in wine barrels.

The term tartaro is still sometimes used by stone-cutters today, but for particularly porous travertine.


377. (105.1) Tartaro di Tivoli. Chestnut coloured ground, with dull whitish bands crossed by many small curved lines in the form of stitches with a needle. (Common).

378. (105.2) Another from the same place. Light peachy coloured ground with many black lines. (Very rare).

379. (105.3) Another from the same place. Light wood colour ground with reddish lines. (Common).

380. (105.4) Another from the same place. Ground of a yellowish white, with many very narrow lines of a lighter shade. (Rare).

381. (105.5) Another from the same place. Light peachy colour, with a few dark curved lines. (Not common).


382. (106.6) Tartaro di Terni. Dark chestnut colour ground with waves of a richer shade. (Not common).

383. (106.7) Another from the same place. Ground of whitish yellow flowered, and with thick dark curved lines. (Common).

384. (106.8) Another from the same place. Ground of light peachy colour, very much flowered, and veined with some darker lines. (Common).

385. (106.9) Another from the same place. Whitish ground with clouds of dark chestnut colour. (Common).

386. (106.10) Another from the same place. Whitish ground with tortuous lines, and delicately shaded like ribbon. (Very rare).

387. (106.11) Tartaro de' Bagni di S. Filippo. All white, and this is what the bas-reliefs are made. (Common).

388. (106.12) Another from the same place. All white with alabaster in the form of stalactite. (Rare).


942. (Suppl.18.1) Tartaro di Tivoli. Light grey ground with very tiny white lines. Very beautiful and (not common).


Section V
Breccias (Breccie)

The marbles called breccias are formed of fragments of other marbles, either of one colour or of different colours, and are united by calcareous cement. According to Brard 76 the shape of the fragments is usually angular, in contrast to those of the so-called puddingstones which are made up of round fragments, as will be noted at the proper time. The greater or lesser size of the fragments gives rise to changes in the names of the breccias as much among the stonecutters as among the mineralogists: those therefore, that are composed of big fragments are called large breccias and those composed of small fragments are called minute breccias. As the size of the fragments diminishes and the fragmentation increases they are called semisantas, pisolites, oolites.

Brard i classified breccias thus: 'One calls brecciated marbles (les marbres brèches) those which are formed by a multitude of angular fragments of different marbles reunited by a cement of whatever colour. I have sub-divided them here into petites brèches, when the markings are in general less than the approximate diameter of a thumb (such as brèche-vierge), and grandes brèches, when the majority of pieces are more than this dimension (such as brèche violette antique, and the brèche africaine).' When discussing siliceous breccias ii , he also said: 'The breccias, like the puddingstones, are composed of fragments united by a special cement; but what distinguishes the two aggregates is that puddingstones are composed of round pebbles … while breccias are formed by the union fragments that for, the greater part, are more or less angular; I say for the greater part because there are few breccias that do not contain some rounded fragments.'

This is in line with the modern distinction between breccias and conglomerates, which are distinguished by the degree of rounding of the clasts rather than chemical composition of either clasts or matrix (also see Corsi's introduction to the puddingstones).

From the early 18th century the name 'pisolith' was given to small rounded accretions of volcanic ash resembling peas. In the early 19th century, it was used instead for pea-sized spherules that are found in certain limestones. Pisoliths, and ooliths (grains resembling small fish eggs), are formed by chemical accretion usually of calcium carbonate in marine, lacustrine and cave environments, and would not today be classified by geologists among the breccias.

i. Brard (1821) 273
ii. Brard (1821) 255 op.cit.

§ I Ancient Breccias (Breccie Antiche, Marmor Scyrium, et Hierapoliticum)

Although there may be many ancient breccias, of which the quarries have not been discovered anywhere, found in the excavations in Rome, nevertheless the ancient writers have only described two varieties with exactness, as we shall see shortly. Strabo 77 says moreover that 'the public and private areas of Rome are decorated by beautiful and varied stones from Skyros, and from Aleppo, thus you see columns and slabs of different marbles united in a single marble'. The characteristics of breccias cannot be described better, and there is reason to believe that in the main such marbles were quarried in the Island of Skyros in the Archipelago, and in the region of Aleppo in Syria.

There have been different interpretations of Strabone's text. Jones's translation i says: 'Scyros … widely mentioned for the quarries of the Scyrian variegated marble, which is comparable to the Carystian marble, and to the Docimaean or Synnadic and to the Hierapolitic. For at Rome are to be seen monolithic columns and great slabs of the variegated marble; and with this marble the city is being adorned both at public and private expense.'

Corsi's interpretation, in contrast to Jones, stresses various (different) marbles in one 'cosi che tu vedi colonne e tavole di varj marmi in un solo marmo riuniti'.

This description was not sufficient for Corsi to recognize that breccia di Setti Basi, (nos. 405, 406, 947) and semesanto scuro (no. 409) were in fact examples of marmor Scyrium.

In associating the name marmor Hierapoliticum with Aleppo, Corsi alludes to the ancient city of Hierapolis in Syria, today called Membij, lying north east of Halab (Aleppo). This should not be confused with the ancient Hierapolis (now Pamukkale) in Turkey, a source of ancient alabaster. Again no description of the breccia from Aleppo was given by ancient authors, leading to the confusion relating to the naming of breccia di Aleppo (see no. 394).

i. Strabo, tr. Jones (1970) 427


389. (108.1) Rosso brecciato. Marmor Lydium. The ground of this marble is of a vivid red [p109] , and it never shows any veins or lines of black, for which reason it is considered quite different from the marble rosso antico. What characterises it best, and makes it recognised as a breccia, are the many fragments of bluish-grey white marble, sometimes of a medium size, and often very small, to which the red ground serves as a cement. I believe that this might be the Lydian marble, since Paulus Silentiarius 78 referring to such marble says it is a mixture of red, and pallid white, which corresponds perfectly with rosso brecciato. (Very rare).

Paulus i wrote: '… and the glittering marble with wavy veins found in the deep gullies of the Iasian peaks, exhibiting slanting streaks of blood-red and livid white; the pale yellow with swirling red from the Lydian headland.'

Corsi interprets the two phrases from Paul to mean the same stone, whereas Mango and Gnoli ii suggest the passage quoted describes two different ones. The marble from the 'Lydian headland' is thought by Gnoli iii to be a variety of breccia corallina (see no.404) which Corsi describes without citing Paul.

Rosso brecciato is not from the Lydian headland, but rather, a brecciated variety of cipollino rosso correctly stated by Paul to be from the ancient town of Iasos in Caria, around the modern village of Kiyikslacik, in Muğla, Turkey. Other specimens from this location in Corsi's collection include nos. 95, 96, 97 and 903. Incidentally Lydia and Caria were neighbouring areas, and their borders changed through time.

i. Mango (1972) 85-86
ii. Gnoli (1988) 239
iii. Gnoli (1988) 243 op.cit.

390. (109.2) Broccatello antico. Marmor Schiston. This marble is not commonly counted among the breccias, but Brongniart 79 says that the Broccatello is a breccia with small fragments, that its colour generally is golden yellow. It sometimes shows markings of a darker yellow and sometimes of a violet colour, and it is to be found near Tortosa in Catalonia. The stonecutters call Orientale the completely yellow broccatello, and di Spagna [p110] the yellow one mixed with violet, although it is certain that the quarries were in Spain only, nevertheless it may be found in the excavations of Rome, which shows that the ancients made use of it nevertheless. Dioscorides 80 who refers to it, says that the Marmor Schiston originated in Spain and matches the characteristic colour of saffron. The specimen shown has a dark purplish ground, with many breccie of golden yellow, and some saccharoidal veins of calcium carbonate. (Rare).

The name derives from its resemblance to brocade (broccato) a rich fabric woven with raised patterns and originally with added gold or silver threads. Brongniart i adds to his description of the stone, that 'Fine brocatello is rare and dear.'

Del Riccio ii in the late 16th century uses the name brocatello Orientale, 'similar to the brocade woven in Florence' but thinks that the quarry is somewhere in the Orient. He notes a similar brocatello found in Spain. Corsi, however, recognises that the two colours are to be seen in the Catalonian stone, which Gnoli iii confirms.

Orientale (lit. eastern) could mean 'from outside Europe'; or sometimes, 'beautiful' when applied to marbles or gems iv .The fragments in broccatello are of fossil bivalves, so this stone would be more correctly classed as a lumachella.

i. Brongniart (1807) 197
ii. Del Riccio, ed. Gnoli & Sironi (1996) 13, 95
iii. Gnoli (1988) 210-211
iv. Pinkerton (1811) 599

391. (110.3) Another broccatello with not much purple, paler yellow, and some shells. (Rare).

392. (110.4) Another broccatello all purple with a few breccie of a citron yellow, and many shells. (Rare).

393. (110.5) Another broccatello with a light purple ground verging on peachy colour, with breccie of a canary yellow. (Rare).

394. (110.6) Breccia di Aleppo. So called by Bomare 81 and he describes it as is shown in the specimen we are discussing. He expresses it in[p111] the following terms: 'The breccia of Aleppo is a mixture of small pieces of either grey, reddish, brown or blackish, but in which yellow predominates'. I do not know the reference from which Bomare had with such certainty found the provenance of this breccia, but surely one would not be mistaken in believing it was Aleppo, since we have already seen that the region of that city was abundant in breccias. There are two columns of this marble in Rome, in the altar to the left in the Church of S. Clemente, and a column drum of it in the Galleria de' Candelabri of the Vatican Museum no.1575. (Very rare).

Corsi refers to marmor Hierapoliticum in his introduction to the ancient breccias here and in Delle Pietre Antiche i (1845), but not in direct reference to this stone, even though one of the cities known to the ancient Romans as Hierapolis lies near Aleppo (now called Halab) in Syria. The ancient quarry for this stone was re-discovered not in Syria, but at Kariés, 6 km NW of the city of Chios (Chora) on the Greek island of Chios ii .

The name breccia di Aleppo or breccia d'Aleppo, consistently applied to this stone in collections of ancient marbles, may have been perpetuated by Bomare iii who was most probably referring to brèche d'Alet from the area of Tholonet and Alet, near Aix, France, a breccia in which yellow can be the predominant colour (as illustrated by Dubarry de Lassale iv ). By comparison, this Chian breccia has rather few scattered clasts of a particularly vibrant yellow colour.

i. Corsi (1845) 139-140
ii. Lazzarini (2003) 149
iii. Bomare (1791) 261
iv. Dubarry de Lassale (2000) 141

395. (111.7) Breccia traccagnina. Many breccias have been given this curious name, because being made up of different coloured fragments, they have some resemblance to the costume of the fancy dress of the harlequin. In this specimen the black stands out among the peachy colour, grey and white. (Very rare).

The name breccia traccagnina means harlequin breccia and alludes to the variety of colours of the clasts. Deposits of breccias are often of quite limited extent, and so the ancient quarries of most of these stones are not known; however some suggestions are made in the further details for individual stones.

396. (111.8) Breccia traccagnina. Combination of red breccie in various shades of colour, a few white, and some dull greenish ones. (Rare).


397. (112.9) Breccia traccagnina. Composed of very small white, red and grey fragments. (Rare).

398. (112.10) Breccia traccagnina. White ground with fragments of light red, yellow and grey. (Rare).

399. (112.11) Breccia traccagnina. Light peachy coloured ground, with grey markings verging into faded yellow. (Rare).

400. (112.12) Breccia traccagnina. Ash-grey ground, with markings of various shades of blackish colour. (Rare).

401. (112.13) Breccia traccagnina. Ground of brick colour, with red, grey and blackish fragments. (Very rare).

402. (112.14) Breccia traccagnina. Golden yellow ground with white, red and cerulean fragments. There is a half-column of this marble in the room of the Dying Gladiator in the Capitoline Museum. (Very rare).

Note that a medium sized column is 2 - 3 metres high.

403. (112.15) Breccia traccagnina. Mixture of various shades of red, grey, and yellow fragments. Perhaps it is the most beautiful of the types of [p113] harlequin breccia, and there being no other example of it in Rome, it can be said to be of (extraordinary rarity).

404. (113.16) Breccia corallina. Coral red ground with many small white markings. There is a beautiful column of this marble in the High Altar of the church of S. Prisca. (Very rare).

This is thought by Gnoli to be the stone described as 'from the Lydian headland' by Paul the Silentiary (see notes for no.389), and known as breccia corallina.

405. (113.17) Breccia di Sette Basi. This marble was first found in the villa of Septimius Bassus, hence its name, which is commonly abbreviated as above. The ground is purplish with red and white markings. The oblong fragments give it a distinct character. There is a very beautiful column drum of this marble in the room of the Dying Gladiator in the Capitoline Museum. (Very rare).

Corsi correctly identifies this as the distinctive sheared breccia with a strong orientation known as Settebassi, (or Settebasi), but he was unaware that it was from the Greek island of Skyros. According to Del Riccio i , writing in the 16th century, it was known as Breccia Greca, a name that seems to have been 'lost' in the vocabulary of the stonecutters.

The Villa of Septimius Bassus was, according to Gnoli ii , a large villa complex found in a very ruined state by a group of builders sometime in the 10th century, in the Roman campagna. Nothing appears to be known from texts about the owner of the villa.

The marble quarries on Skyros were re-opened in 1899, and were subsequently worked on a large scale by the Marmor Marble Company iii .

i. Del Riccio, ed. Gnoli & Sironi (1996) 27, 102
ii. Gnoli (1988) 223-233
iii. Porter (1907) 89

406. (113.18) Breccia di Sette Basi fiorito. Of the type similar to the above, but flowered with a lighter purple that shades into peachy colour. (Very rare).

407. (113.19) Breccia pavonazza. Mixture of various shades of purple, with a remarkable effect. (Very rare).

408. (113.20) Breccia rossa. Red ground with [p114] fragments of other reds, and yellows, and some shells. This specimen has recently been found in excavations on the outskirts of Rome. It is entirely new, and could be said to be (unique).

Corsi i (1845) describes the stone in more detail, saying its discovery was very recent (recentissima). Whether he was referring to the same discovery in or before 1825 is not clear, nor where it was found.

Two columns of this stone were revealed during excavations that were carried out between 1885 and 1887 (after Corsi's death) on the site of the newly demolished Villa Casali, an early 17th century house on the Celian Hill. The stone was called breccia di Villa Casali by the archaeologist and commentator Rodolfo Lanciani. It has also been called breccia rossa policroma; its provenance is not known ii .

The location of the excavations which yielded Corsi's stone may or may not have been on the Celian Hill, a location which was not then in the centre of the City, nor was it entirely built up.

i. Corsi (1845) 151
ii. Price (2007) 147

409. (114.21) Semesanto scuro. Purplish ground with oblong, grey breccie and triangular ones of canary yellow, all tiny. Known as semesanto, because the smallness of the breccie resembles a seed so-called. I have never seen any piece larger than this sample, and therefore it could be said it is of (extraordinary rarity).

Corsi i (1845) notes that pharmacists prepared a confection of 'holy seed' (seme santo) in which sugar coated comfits are variously coloured to tempt children; one assumes to take nasty medicine.

In the 16th century, according to Del Riccio ii it was called breccia sagginata or panicata, both meaning millet.

Semesanto is found on the small Greek island of Skyros in the Sporades. It is only worked in small blocks because it is found in narrow, irregular beds between those of breccia di Settebassi, which has larger clasts iii .

i. Corsi (1845) 148-149
ii. Del Riccio, ed. Gnoli & Sironi (1996) 103
iii. Lazzarini et al. (1989)

410. (114.22) Semesanto pallido. Peachy colour ground, with very small whitish fragments. (Very rare).

411. (114.23) Breccia dorata. Dark yellow ground with fragments of a lighter yellow. (Rare).

412. (114.24) Another. Half is purple, and half yellow with smaller fragments than the above. (Very rare).

413. (114.25) Breccia gialla. Ground of orange with small white, red, and dark blue markings. (Very rare).


414. (115.26) Occhio di pernice. Peachy colour ground, with small, round, dull reddish markings similar to the eye of a partridge. (Very rare).

415. (115.27) Breccia fruticolosa. So-called by Ferber. Light yellow ground with small white, and grey, markings. (Very rare).

This block does not accord with Ferber's i description '… an ancient pudding-stone; consisting of yellow and red, roundish pebbles inclosed with black iron dendrites …'. Neither is it the stone that has become known as breccia frutticolosa, of which no. 680 is a good example. Corsi ii later (1845) classes breccia frutticolosa as a puddingstone, but as will be seen in our comments on the introduction to that section of this Catalogo ragionato, he was confused as to whether puddingstones (conglomerates) were distinguished on grounds of shape or on mineral composition.

i. Ferber (1776), tr. Raspe 222
ii. Corsi (1845) 200

416. (115.28) Breccia pavonazza. Deep purplish ground, with markings of a paler purple, and some whitish ones. (Rare).

417. (115.29) Breccia pavonazza. Light purplish ground with very small white and grey markings. There are two columns of this marble in the third altar to the left of the church of S. Maria in Via. (Very rare).

418. (115.30) Breccia bianca, e nera. Milk white ground with black markings. (Very rare).

419. (115.31) Breccia gialla e nera. Golden yellow ground with markings of a blackish grey. A very beautiful and (very rare) stone of which in Rome I know only small inlays in the churches of S. Chiara, and of S. Silvestro al Quirinale.


420. (116.32) Breccia persichina. Pale purplish ground that verges on peachy colour with small shiny white markings. There is an urn of this marble under the last altar on the left in the church of S. Antonio de' Portoghesi. (Very rare).

421. (116.33) Breccia della villa Adriana. Altogether it is dark, but it is considered the most beautiful breccia that might ever be seen, because it exhibits black, white, yellow, red, green, dark blue, purple and the respective shades of such colours. It is called after Hadrian's Villa because it was found in the excavations in that place alone. In Rome it can be seen only as four small slabs in the second chapel to the left of the church of S. Andrea della Valle. (Very rare).

Corsi i (1845.) wrote: 'Commonly and reasonably this is known as breccia della villa Adriana because, (although seldom) it is found among the ruins of that place, near Tivoli. I remember that I have already seen, in the manuscript of Monsignor Leone Strozzi, that it is called breccia Quintilina as it is sometimes found on the land … on the outskirts of Tivoli where the famous villa of Quintilius Varus was. I myself have picked up some fragments in that vicinity.'

Del Riccio ii also mentions this stone: ' its quarry is still unknown, but it has become known as breccia di Tivoli'. Gnoli iii says that a cache of it was found in small blocks among the ruins of the villa of Q. Varus in the late 16th century. These were soon exploited by the Roman scalpellini for decorative inlays in expensive marble tabletops iv .

It is now believed the stone was quarried in ancient times in the Levanto area of Liguria, Italy.

i. Corsi (1845) 145-114
ii. Del Riccio XV, ed. Gnoli & Sironi (1996) 96
iii. Gnoli (1988) 254-256
iv. Price (2007) 179

943. (Suppl.18.1) Breccia rossa. Light red ground, with grey, and yellow, markings. Very rare, and (perhaps unique).

944. (Suppl.18.2) Breccia rosea. Rose-coloured ground with many small white markings. (Rare).

945. (Suppl.18.3) Breccia pavonazza. Light purplish ground marked by a darker purplish, grey and white. Very beautiful, and (perhaps unique).


946. (Suppl.19.4) Breccia traccagnina. Ground of golden yellow with small red, grey and black markings. (Rare).

947. (Suppl.19.5) Breccia a semesanto. Deep purplish ground with yellow, and white, markings that are larger than those of the other semesanto described in the catalogue. (Rare).

948. (Suppl.19.6) Broccatello di Spagna. Ground of golden yellow with a few white and purplish, markings. (Very rare).

949. (Suppl.19.7) Breccia pavonazza. Deep purplish ground, with white and dull reddish markings. (Rare).

950. (Suppl.19.8) Breccia corallina. Red ground with small white and grey markings. (Very rare).

951. (Suppl.19.9) Breccia bigia. Light grey ground with very small yellow, white and black markings. Very rare, and (perhaps unique).

952. (Suppl.19.10) Breccia lignea. Dark wood-coloured ground with lighter markings, some white and others yellowish. (Very rare).

953. (Suppl.19.11) Breccia persichina. Ground of peachy colour with darker waves and white markings. (Rare).


§ II Italian Breccias (Breccie d' Italia)


422. (116.1) Oolite bianca di Monte Baldo in the Veronese area. It is commonly thought that oolite is an aggregate of petrified fish-eggs [p117] , and indeed it is formed of round particles not larger than the said eggs, but all the mineralogists agree that it might be a tufa composed of small round globules aggregated together each of the size of a grain of poppyseed, and each little globule in turn is divided into other small grains. See Brochant. 82 (Rare).

423. (117.2) Oolite bianca e gialla di Monte Baldo in the Veronese area. Distinguished from the above only in colour. (Rare).

424. (117.3) Oolite bigia di Brescia. This specimen contains some petrified shells. (Very rare).

425. (117.4) Breccia di Bologna. Purplish ground with markings of white, grey, red, and of a beautiful flowered dark yellow. (Very rare).

426. (117.5) Semesanto di Ancona. Red ground with very small fragments of white, and grey that passes into dull greenish. (Rare).

427. (117.6) Breccia di Terni. Aggregate of small walnut coloured fragments in various shades, some white, and others of a yellow straw colour. (Rare).


428. (118.7) Mandolato of Lubiara in the Euganean Hills. Mixture of purplish white, and yellow. (Common).

429. (118.8) Corallina di Carrara. Blush-red ground with dull whitish fragments. (Not common).

430. (118.9) Pomorol of S. Giorgio in the Veronese area. Rose coloured ground with markings of canary yellow. (Not common).

431. (118.10) Breccia degli Appennini. Light purple ground with yellowish white fragments. (Rare).

432. (118.11) Breccia di Saravezza. Dark purplish ground with grey, and some red fragments. It is found to have been used by the ancients. (Rare).

433. (118.12) Bretonega di Dolce in the Veronese area. Ground of rose colour with minute paler markings, and also very small yellow ones. This is the most delicate breccia that could ever be seen. (Very rare).

434. (118.13) Breccia di Verona. Very light red ground with fragments of a slightly richer shade. (Very rare).


435. (119.14) Breccia di Canneto in Tuscany. Purplish ground with many small, ash-coloured markings. (Very rare).

436. (119.15) Semesanto di Milano. White ground with very small red dots. (Rare).

437. (119.16) Broccatello di Toscana. Purplish ground with peachy coloured fragments. (Rare).

438. (119.17) Breccia di Brescia. Very pale peachy colour with fragments of dirty white. (Not common).

439. (119.18) Breccia rossa di Trapani. Deep red ground with markings of a lighter red. (Rare).

440. (119.19) Corallina di Pisa. Purplish ground almost entirely covered with white fragments. (Not common).

441. (119.20) Breccia di lago di Como. Dark grey ground with fragments of a light grey. (Not common).

442. (119.21) Breccia di Mastro Simone. Dark red ground with fragments of a light red. It took its name from Simone, a master-stonecutter who was the first to use it in Rome. It is quarried in the[p120] region of S. Angelo in Capoccia near Tivoli. Four large columns can be seen in the first altar to the left in the Church of S. Andrea della Valle. (Common).

The stone usually associated with Mastro Simone is a dark red, almost purplish, sandstone.

443. (120.22) Broccatello di Maran in the Veronese area. Deep red with light reddish markings. (Common).

444. (120.23) Rosso di Rosoro in the Veronese area. Chestnut red ground with fragments of lighter red. (Common).

445. (120.24) Broccatello di Torbe in the Veronese area. Red ground with fragments of a red verging on yellowish. (Common).

446. (120.25) Breccia di Siena. Grey ground with markings of dirty white. (Not common).

447. (120.26) Breccia del lago di Garda. Peachy coloured ground with fragments of reddish-white, and yellow lines. (Not common).

448. (120.27) Giallo di S. Ambrogio. Yellow ground brecciated with white. (Not common).

449. (120.28) Breccia di Brianzo in the Milanese area. Light grey ground with fragments, some darker, and some white. (Rare).


450. (121.29) Breccia della Gaetta sul Lago di Como. Light red ground with small grey and white, markings. (Not common).

451. (121.30) Breccia di Lugano. Dark grey ground with fragments of dirty white, and yellow. (Rare).

452. (121.31) Breccia di Giannicolo in Rome. Dirty white ground with shiny white fragments. (Not common).

453. (121.32) Another with a light grey ground, and fragments of dark grey. (Not common).

454. (121.33) Another with a light grey ground, and fragments verging on canary yellow. (Rare).

455. (121.34) Mischio di Casole in the Veronese area. Peachy coloured ground with white fragments. (Rare).

456. (121.35) Breccia di Cango in the Milanese area. Light red ground, with fragments of a still lighter shade. (Rare).

457. (121.36) Breccia from Marseilles, commonly called Bruè di Francia. Dark purplish ground with red fragments. (Not common).

458. (121.37) Pomarolo di Serme in the Veronese area [p122] . Blood red ground with whitish fragments. (Not common).

459. (122.38) Broccatello di Milano. Purplish ground with whitish markings that shade to yellow. (Rare).

460. (122.39) Breccia de' Colli Euganei. Light red ground with white fragments. (Very rare).

461. (122.40) Breccia di Pavia. Red and grey ground, with whitish and faded yellow fragments. (Rare).

462. (122.41) Breccia di Cori near Rome. Red ground with fragments of dirty white. (Common).

463. (122.42) Broccatello di Olorgie in the Veronese area. Blood red ground with fragments lined by a lighter red. (Not common).

464. (122.43) Broccatello di Malsesine on Lake Garda. Light purplish ground with peachy coloured fragments. (Rare).

465. (122.44) Rosso di Grezzana in the Veronese area. Light red ground with fragments lined by a dark red. (Not common).


466. (123.45) Breccia di Lago di Garda. Light red ground with peachy coloured fragments. (Common).

467. (123.46) Breccia di Tivoli. Deep black ground with grey, and white, fragments. (Rare).

468. (123.47) Breccia degli Appennini. Blush pink ground with white fragments. (Common).

469. (123.48) Another. Peachy coloured ground and white fragments. (Common).

470. (123.49) Another. Ground red verging on purple with white spots. (Common).

471. (123.50) Breccia di Ponte Salaro, near Rome. Ground grey tending to peachy colour, with lighter fragments, and some shells. (Rare).

472. (123.51) Another. Grey ground and small fragments of various shades of white. (Not common).

473. (123.52) Breccia di Monsumano in Tuscany. Light purplish ground with peachy coloured fragments. (Rare).

474. (123.53) Breccia di Taormina. Purplish ground with fragments of green, and yellow verging on bronze. (Very rare).


475. (124.54) Breccia di Vigiù in the Milanese area. Greenish grey ground with fragments of light grey marked with red. (Very rare).

476. (124.55) Breccia di Prato. Grey ground with black and whitish fragments. (Very rare).

477. (124.56) Breccia di Seravezza. Dark purplish ground with green, white and chestnut coloured fragments. (Very rare).

478. (124.57) Another. Ground navy blue with white, red, and rose coloured fragments. (Very rare).

479. (124.58) Another. Ground navy blue with white, peach and straw coloured fragments. (Very rare).

480. (124.59) Breccia di Val di Radi in Tuscany. Dark wood colour ground with fragments of a lighter shade, and others of yellow. (Very rare).

481. (124.60) Breccia traccagnina di Vitulano in the Kingdom of Naples. Navy blue with grey, red, blackish and yellow fragments. (Very rare).

482. (124.61) Breccia traccagnina del Monte Gargano in the Kingdom of Naples. Grey ground with yellow, black and peachy coloured fragments. (Rare).


483. (125.62) Breccia traccagnina della Giazza in the Veronese area. Mixture of white, red, grey and yellow fragments. (Rare).

484. (125.63) Breccia di Torino. Purple ground with green fragments lined by white. (Very rare).

485. (125.64) Breccia di Gherardesca in Tuscany. Dark purplish ground with lighter purple, and peachy coloured fragments. (Rare).

486. (125.65) Breccia di Pistoja. Yellowish ground with grey fragments. (Not common).

487. (125.66) Breccia di Casale in the Veronese area. Black ground with grey fragments, and some white spots. (Very rare).

488. (125.67) Breccia di Sentro in the Veronese area. Purplish ground with whitish, and flesh coloured fragments. (Rare).

489. (125.68) Breccia degli Appennini. Green ground spotted with yellow. (Very rare).

490. (125.69) Breccia di Sarzana. Reddish ground with white, grey and flesh coloured markings. (Rare).

491. (125.70) Another with a dark purplish ground, and markings of various whites, and grey. (Rare).


492. (126.71) Mandolato di Torri on Lake Garda. Blush pink with white fragments. (Common).

493. (126.72) Gialletto di Grezona in the Veronese area. Light yellow ground marked by still lighter yellow. (Common).

494. (126.73) Breccia di Napoli. Grey ground marked by white, and black. (Common).

495. (126.74) Breccia di Carrara. White ground marked by black. (Common).

496. (126.75) Breccia degli Appennni. Flesh coloured ground marked by white. (Common).

497. (126.76) Breccia di Milano. Dark red ground marked by light red. (Common).

498. (126.77) Marrone di Sestino in the Milanese area. Red ground marked by reddish white. (Common).

499. (126.78) Rosso di Mizzole. Deep red ground marked by red to faded yellow. (Common).


954. (Suppl.20.1) Breccia di Saravezza. Rose-coloured ground evenly marked by white. Beautiful, and (not common).

955. (Suppl.20.2) Another, with a deep red ground and uneven markings of white. (Not common).


Section VI
Clay marbles (Marmi argillosi)

This fossil is also called litomarga, and is a mixture of calcium carbonate and clay. It adheres to the tongue when touched by it, and when breathed on gives off an earthy smell. It is very compact, and therefore takes a beautiful polish. When it becomes hardened it splits easily, and the clefts fill with a ferruginous filtrate, which randomly diffuses through the stone, and takes on the appearance of natural objects. If it evokes the growth of trees or plants it is called dendritic, if it looks like rocks, reefs or castles it is called ruin marble, and when monochrome, or veined without appearing like any object it is called common clay. It seems that this stone may have been made to indulge Nature's sense of humour.

'Fossil' originally meant any rock or mineral dug out of the earth. The term was still used with this meaning at the end of the 18th century, though by then it was beginning to apply only to petrified remains of plants and animals. Corsi also uses the term for his samples of fluorspar, a mineral.

§ I Common clays (Argille comuni)

500. (127.1) Persichino di Romegiano in the Veronese area. Apple green. (Common).


501. (128.2) Giallo di Pigozo in the Veronese area. Light green verging on faded yellow. (Common).

502. (128.3) Marmorato di Osimo. Very light grey ground with peachy coloured markings. (Rare).

503. (128.4) Palombino di Cesena. Ground grey that shades into yellowish green. (Common).