Terrazzo panel, sailing ship, Melocco Brothers, Australia, 1950-1960
Terrazzo is a form of mosaic decoration, distinguished from other types of mosaic by the use of marble pieces rather than glass or other stones.
Although most prominent and sophisticated in Roman and Byzantine architecture, the craft of terrazzo has been continually practiced in parts of Italy, and was exported by Italian craftsmen during the migrations of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The Melocco brothers established their Sydney business in 1908. Although the company expanded into quarrying and other forms of stonework, decorative terrazzo created the Melocco reputation through a variety of commissions in prominent buildings including the State Library of New South Wales, St. Mary's Cathedral and Central Station.
This panel is a fine example of the intricate method and aesthetic appeal of terrazzo. The delicacy and exactness of both the marble pattern and the brass filigree work is testimony to the patience and skill of its creators. The panel's nautical subject matter is a happy coincidence, given its similarity to the Dutch sailing vessels framing the Tasman Map in the foyer of the State Library of New South Wales, probably the best known work of Melocco terrazzo in Sydney.
Peter, Anthony and Galliano Melocco came to Sydney from Travesio, an area of Italy notable for the survival of the antique craft of terrazzo. Melocco Brothers was founded in 1908, specialising in terrazzo work and in the manufacture of industrial wash basins.
By the 193Os Melocco was also established as stone merchants and importers, and today the company works over twenty Australian quarries for marble, granite, sandstone and bluestone. In this capacity Melocco produced the stonework for the new Parliament House, Canberra and the Governor Phillip and Macquarie Towers in Sydney, as well as supplying numerous restoration jobs including the Australian Museum and Pyrmont Bridge.
Melocco has been owned by Boral Limited for some time, and this parent company has recently decided to close the NSW office of Melocco and concentrate activities in Melbourne and Brisbane. The terrazzo panel was a feature of the Sydney showroom.
This panel was produced for the foyer of a Sydney office building, but was retained by Melocco as a showroom display piece. Melocco are seeking more complete provenance information.