Carrara marble, sometimes mistakenly called Carrera marble, is a type of white or blue-grey marble popular for use in sculpture and building decor. It is quarried at the city of Carrara in the province of Massa and Carrara in the Lunigiana, the northernmost tip of modern day Tuscany, Italy.
Carrara marble has been used since the time of Ancient Rome. In the 17th and 18th centuries the marble quarries were monitored by the Cybo and Malaspina families who ruled over Massa and Carrara. The family created the Office of Marble in 1564 to regulate the marble mining industry. The city of Massa, in particular, saw much of its plan redesigned (new roads, plazas, intersections, pavings) in order to make it worthy of an Italian country's capital. Following the extinction of the Cybo-Malaspina family, the state was ruled by the House of Austria and management of the mines rested with them. The Basilica of Massa is built entirely of Carrara marble and the old Ducal Palace of Massa was used to showcase the precious stone.
At the end of the 19th century Carrara became the cradle of anarchism in Italy, in particular among the quarry workers. According to a New York Times article of 1894, workers in the marble quarries were among the most neglected labourers in Italy. Many of them were ex-convicts or fugitives from justice. The work at the quarries was so tough that almost any aspirant worker with sufficient muscle and endurance was employed, regardless of their background.
The quarry workers and stone carvers had radical beliefs that set them apart from others. Anarchism and general radicalism became part of the heritage of the stone carvers. Many violent revolutionists who had been expelled from Belgium and Switzerland went to Carrara in 1885 and founded the first anarchist group in Italy. In Carrara, the anarchist Galileo Palla remarked, “even the stones are anarchists.” The quarry workers were the main protagonists of the Lunigiana revolt in January 1894.
Notable monuments and buildings
The marble from Carrara was used for some of the most remarkable buildings in Ancient Rome, such as the Pantheon and Trajan's Column in Rome are constructed of it. Many sculptures of the Renaissance, such as Michelangelo's David (1501–04), were carved from Carrara marble. For Michelangelo at least, Carrara marble was valued above all other stone, except perhaps that of his own quarry in Pietrasanta.
- The statue to Robert Burns which commands a central position in Dumfries was carved in Carrara by Italian craftsmen working to Amelia Paton Hill's model. It was unveiled by future UK Prime Minister, Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery on 6 April 1882.
- Marble Arch, London
- Duomo di Siena, Siena, Italy
- Manila Cathedral (interior), Manila, Philippines
- Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Harvard Medical School buildings, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
- Oslo Opera House, Oslo, Norway
- Peace Monument, Washington, DC, USA
- King Edward VII Memorial, Birmingham, UK
- Akshardham, Delhi
- Aon Center (Chicago) Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
- Robba Fountain, Ljubljana, Slovenia
As with many of the popular marbles, the true marble from Carrara is often imitated by marble from other places, which may be called 'Carrara'. For example a white marble with similar dark veins comes from Turkey and may be labelled 'Carrara' at least to give people an idea of its appearance, if not in an attempt to pass it off as true Carrara marble.
- Goldthwaite 2011, p. 571.
- Goldthwaite 2011, p. 573.
- Goldthwaite 2011, p. 574.
- A Stronghold of Anarchists, The New York Times, January 19, 1894
- No License to Serve: Prohibition, Anarchists, and the Italian-American Widows of Barre, Vermont, 1900–1920, by Robin Hazard Ray, Italian Americana, Spring 2011
- "National Burns Collection – Burns Statue, Dumfries with Tam O'Shanter and Souter Johnnie statues "on tour", c 1900". Burnsscotland.com. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
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