924. Superb Pietra Dura Italian Wall Plaque Still Life 19thCt

A Superb Pietra Dura Highly Decorative Framed Wall Plaque, of exceptional quality and Italian origin, early to mid Nineteenth Century.

Finely inlaid with a Summer Cabbage Rose in colours of peach and cream, scrolling foliage and rose buds on a black onyx ground.

Condition: Good condition, except for some very light staining (see images) however this is less visible in the hand. The wooden frame is of a later date.

Width: (entire including frame) 9" (23cm). Height: (entire including frame) 6.75” (17cm).

Pietra Dura is a term for using cut and fitted highly polished coloured stones to create images. The stonework is glued stone-by-stone to a base after being "sliced and cut in different shape sections, then assembled together so precisely that the contact between each section was practically invisible". Stability was achieved by grooving the undersides of the stones so that they interlocked, rather like a jigsaw puzzle, with everything held in place by an encircling 'frame'. Many different colored stones, particularly various marbles were used, along with semiprecious stones.

The technique first appeared in Rome in the 16th century. It reached its peak in Florence. Pietra dura items are generally crafted on green, white or black marble base stones. Typically the resulting panel is completely flat, but some examples have the image is in low relief.

Pietra dura is also different from mosaics because stones are mostly much larger and cut to a shape suiting their place in the image, not all of roughly equal size and shape as in mosaic. In pietra dura, the stones are not cemented together with grout, and works in pietra dura are often portable.

This Plaque is a superb example of this ancient craft.