Culture and heritage


Melocco Brothers skilled artisanship

Melocco Brothers made many of the sumptuous marble interiors of Sydney's great buildings of the 1930s as well as several great marble or terrazzo floors, including the crypt of St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, the State Theatre and the ticket office at Central Railway Station. Despite these outstanding contributions to the public art and culture of NSW, Melocco Brothers were subjected to official hostility during World War Two for being too 'Italian'.

Individual craftsmen produced the various elements in the Tasman Map for the vestibule of the State Library building, one of Melocco's greatest works of art. The marble slabs with their various patterns were produced at the Melocco Brother's marble workshops in Annandale, and then transported to the library for installation. The colours for the terrazzo used in the coat of arms were made from marble granules and, in some cases, crushed enamels. The brass filigree work is 20mm thick, and all of the terrazzo or marble fill is of the same thickness, rather than a thin coating over a plain substrate.

The coat of arms shown in this photograph is not the NSW Coat of Arms but a reproduction of a coat of arms shown in the border decoration of the Tasman Map, which was originally drawn in 1644. The Arms appear to those of a member of the Dutch Royal House of Orange, with the colours of the shield reversed perhaps as a form of differencing.

No examples are known of a representation of the NSW Coat of Arms made with such a high degree of artistic and technological achievement, or such luxurious materials, during this period.

Some questions to research:

  1. What are some of the historical precedents for using marble and coloured stone in heraldic art?
  2. What are some of the similarities and differences between Melocco's art techniques and Wunderlich's industrial processes when applied to heraldry?

Image source: GPO 1 - 22762, State Library of NSW, Picman

Page last updated: 01 September 2012