venetian-plaster-history

At this point, to better understand the popularity of marmorino in Venetian life, two facts need to be considered. The first is that in a city that extends over water, the transport of sand for making plaster and the disposal of tailings was, and still is, a huge problem. So the use of marmorino was successful not only because the substrate was prepared using terra cotta scraps, but also the finish, marmorino, was made with leftover stone and marble, which were in great abundance at that time. These ground discards were mixed with lime to create marmorino.

Besides, marmorino and substrates made of "coccio pesto" resisted the ambient dampness of the lagoon better than almost any other plaster. The first because it is extremely breathable by virtue of the kind of lime used (only lime which sets on exposure to air after losing excess water) and the second, because it contains terracotta which when added to lime makes the mixture hydraulic, that is, it's effective even in very damp conditions (because it contains silica and aluminium, bases of modern cement and Hydraulic lime preparations). The second consideration is that an aesthetically pleasing result could be achieved in an era dominated by the return of a classical Greco-Roman style allowing less weight to be transmitted to the foundation when compared to the habit of covering facades with slabs of stone.

Usually, marmorino was white to imitate Istrian stone, which was most often used in Venetian construction, but was occasionally decorated with frescoes to imitate the marble, which Venetian merchants brought home from their voyages to the Orient. (In this period of the Republic of Venice, merchants felt obliged to return home bearing precious, exotic marble as a tribute to the beauty of their own city.)

Marmorino maintained its prestige for centuries until the end of the 1800s when interest in it faded and it was considered only an economical solution to the use of marble. Only at the end of the 1970s, thanks in part to architect Carlo Scarpa's use of marmorino, did this finishing technique return to the interest of the best modern architects.

For about 10 years, industries were also interested in marmorino which was only produced by artisans. Today, however, ready-to-use marmorino can be found, often with glue added to allow it to be applied on non-traditional surfaces such as drywall or wood panelling.