Located in the main entrance of the Wellington Building is one of the most unique and little known treasures of the Parliamentary Precinct. The foyer of the building is decorated with a remarkable mosaic design that was commissioned by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company as its new Canadian headquarters neared completion in 1927. The building was acquired by the Government of Canada in 1973.
Designed by Mr. Barry Faulkner, a noted American mural painter, the mosaic ceiling and walls were completed by the Ravenna Mosaic Co. of New York. When unveiled, Mr. Faulkner's work was considered one of the finest mosaic designs of the time. The mosaic is made up of thousands of coloured ceramic squares, known as tesserae, which were carefully assembled to produce the final design with its inscriptions and figures. The predominantly gold background gives the mosaic a rich and vibrant tone.
The whole work is a symbolic or allegorical representation of the Insurance Company as a protector and defender of health and well-being. The mosaic is inspired in style and medium by Late Roman and Byzantine mosaics dating from the 5th to 7th centuries, some of the best examples of which can be found, coincidentally enough, in Ravenna, Italy.