Pietra Dura” Tabletop, Marble and Hardstones,



H 2.37 in. x W 35.44 in. x D 35.44 in.


This inlay, called “hard stone work”, which uses colored marbles and stones of a hardness greater than 6 on the scale of Mohs arose in Florence, thanks to the attempt of Piero de Medici and Lorenzo the Magnificent to revitalize and update a technique mosaic called “opus sectile” used in Ancient Rome. Such success had in the European courts, that, since the seventeenth century, a series of workshops were created following his example, among which we must highlight the Factory of Gobelins in France, the Royal Workshop of Naples and the one established by Carlos III in the Real Site of El Buen Retiro in Madrid, which continued in operation until the beginning of the 19th century. Stylistically, they began with a striking variety of motifs, but, since circa 1600, naturalists (flowers, fruits, butterflies, birds …) were preferred as a general rule. They were made with this technique tabletops, plates,
desks, vases, etc., always for the high aristocracy and royalty for the high prices of these jobs, due to the high specialization required since, very often, they had to import the raw material (lapis lazuli, agates, Belgian black marble used to be for the funds …). The present example is the heir of this important tradition, whose influence is shown by comparing it with works such as the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence, the Roman panel of the late 16th century (inventory 62.259) of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, or the one made in Naples by Francesco Ghinghi towards the middle of the 18th century (inventory O00511) preserved in the Prado Museum in Madrid.”


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