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A Perfect Pietra Dura Butterfly!
The artist who selected the stones was masterful; not only in the marvelous colors, but the graining of the stones. He was absolutely faithful to detail in depicting the butterfly that has a camouflage on its wings to fool predators into thinking they are the eyes of a larger animal. Isn't the wisdom of nature incredible! This is a high quality rendering. A small treasure whose modest price enables someone with taste for the finer things to be able to afford a truly wonderful piece. In a lovely frame measuring 3 and 1/4 inches by 2 and 1/2 inches. Although it can be hung, it can also be used as a paperweight. It is in very good antique condition. This is dated to the late 1890s. Pietre dure (or Parchin kari, in south Asia) is an art-historical term for the technique of using small, exquisitely cut and fitted, highly-polished colored stones to create what amounts to a painting in stone. It is considered a decorative art. The stonework, after the work is assembled loosely, is glued stone-by-stone to a substrate after having previously been "sliced and cut in different shape sections; and 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 much like a jigsaw puzzle, with everything held tautly in place by an encircling 'frame'. Many different colored stones, particularly marbles, were used, along with semiprecious, and even precious stones. It first appears in Rome in the 1500s but reaches its full maturity in Florence. Pietre dure is an Italian plural meaning hard rocks, or perhaps better durable stone and this is the preferred term; the singular pietre dura is also encountered. The English term "Florentine mosaic" is sometimes also encountered, as is "micromosaic", but these are disparaged, often as terms developed by the tourist industry.
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Miriam Barkus, Davie, FL
Unique Collectibles, Antiques and Fine Arts from Around the World
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