A rare Pietra Dura and Paesine Table Top, Florence, Grand-Ducal Workshops, circa 1625 

Pietra paesina, pietra lineato dell’Arno, alabaster, lapis-lazuli, various hardstones and marbles

The rectangular top with a nero del Belgio ground shows a central pietra lineato dell’Arno quatrefoil depicting the sea and inlaid with a central island in pietra paesina simulating rocks, a pietra dura rowing boat and alabaster dolphins, that seem to plunge and jump into the waves, with some details such the animal’s eye drawn under the delicate plaque. This large quatrefoil is surrounded by a shaped frame in breccia corallina with lapis lazuli oval plaques to corners and central section of each side within a giallo antico filet. This central part is surrounded by a large border made of pietra paesina quatrefoils suggesting fantasy cities with towers and steeples within a frame similar to that of the central part, each corner with a pietra dura bunch of flowers on a shield shaped black ground. The outer border is made of rosso antico, yellow and black marble bands.

The Florentine production combining hardstones and softer calcareus stones from the Arno valley was very limited. This table top belongs to a very small group of still existing pieces and its large dimensions make it especially rare.

This production comes from the Grand-ducal lapidary workshops founded in 1588 by Ferdinando I de’ Medici (1549-1609) and developed by his son Cosimo II (1609-1621). The height of the fashion for those stones “with bizarre effects” took place under the reign of the latter in the first quarter of the 17th century.

Dimensions: 142 cm x 120 cm (55 7/8 x 47 ¼ in.), thickness: 5 cm (2 in.)