3 iconic types of marble
Marble is one of those types of stone that just about anyone can recognize when looking at. Of course, this isn't saying much – to say you know marble when you see it is like calling yourself an automotive expert because you know what a car looks like.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of marble, with each unique idiosyncrasy and subtlety adding something special to every context it's used in. To get you started on your quest for an encyclopedic knowledge of marble types, here are three of the most iconic varieties and where they appear.
Easily the most famous type of marble in the world, the pure white Carrara marble has been used in countless seminal pieces of art through history. Just a short list of some of the artwork sculpted from the stone found in the north western Italian quarry of Carrara reads like a list of the most influential accomplishments in the field:
- Michelangelo's David
- Michelangelo's Pieta, representing the Virgin Mary cradling Christ's body
- The Livadia Palace, where Franklin Roosevelt stayed during the Yalta conference
- The Marble Arch in London
- Countless Greek and Roman statutes
Today, Carrara marble continues to be quarried, and is in high demand from both artists and homeowners.
Another favorite of sculptors and builders from another era, Parian marble was utilized in Classical times to create some of the most recognizable structures still around today.
Parian marble is so called because it is found on the island of Paros, off the south eastern coast of Greece. The luminous, white marble has been used to make iconic works like the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace – both sitting in the Louvre. This type of marble was so popular that in 1842, an English factory developed a porcelain imitation, which it named "Parian ware".
Last on the list is Pentelic marble, another variety that had its heyday during Classical Antiquity. So-called because it was quarried from the Mt Pentelicon north of Athens, this fine-grained marble with an ever-so-slight golden hue was used extensively by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
If you can think of a major monument in Athens, chances are Pentelic marble was involved in it. The Parthenon and the Pantheon both had substantial portions constructed from it.
In fact, the story of the use of Pentelic marble has a surface protection lesson for us all. Of course, back then the ancient Greeks didn't have products like Dry-Treat's STAIN-PROOF Original™, so they couldn't seal the marble they used on the Parthenon. Over time, this has led to some unfortunate consequences, with the porosity of Pentelic marble resulting to cracking and other deterioration.
Learn something from the ancient Greeks – not just their use of high quality natural stone, but also how what they failed to do went on to impact their creations.