Pietra dura is an Italian phrase that means "hard stone," and usually refers to the technique of creating intricate inlaid pictures from shaped colored stones. The stones used are usually silicates, including agates, alabaster, amethyst, jade, jasper, lapis lazuli, malachite, onyx, and topaz. The craft, developed in antiquity, originally consisted of shaping stones with small saws, wires and other metal instruments and adding them to decorative objects such as vases or small sculptures. The art was revived during the Renaissance by Italian craftsmen and the first hard-stone workshop was established by the Medici family in Florence in 1588. The art was also practiced at the courts of Naples, Madrid, Prague, Paris and elsewhere. From the late 16th century, the colorful stones were arranged on furniture as landscapes and flower scenes. While the common belief is that the art form originated in Italy, some scholars argue that it had an Indian origin, or at least an independent history in that country. A beautiful and famous example of pietra dura is the Taj Mahal, finished in 1643. In commissioning it the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan had asked for precious stones to be inlaid in white marble. The result was some of the most impressive pietra dura architectural designs ever crafted.
"The inlaying of stone into stone is an ancient Indian tradition," says art historian Milo Beach. "The inlaying of many different kinds of colored stones in intricate patterns that depict flowers is something that was developed late in the reign of Shah Jahan's father, Jahangir, and came into maturity under Shah Jahan himself." (Excerpted from Antiques Roadshow - many thanks).
This is a masterpiece. The intricacy of the artistry of placing the tiny perfect pieces of semi-precious stones into the wonderful alabaster marble took the artist many months, One sees so many imitations; larger stones that look clumsy in comparison to this. This is the only piece I had seen when I searched for the "perfect piece" in India to exquisitely mirror the Taj Mahal. We were in India in the late 1970s. My late husband was there to help with the country's problems with obstetrics and gynecology. I loved the people there and was taken to the outstanding artist who was not part of the tourist shops that I have always eschewed. The photographs do not do this piece piece justice.
Size: 18 1/4 inch diameter.
Condition: Very good vintage condition. No losses. I have not cleaned it.
Please discuss payment arrangements before buying. We can offer layaway, but prefer bank transfers to avoid other methods large fees.
Truly a unique opportunity to own the very best of the genre.