Pietre dure (Italian for "hard stone") is a mosaic design made from semiprecious stones. This comprehensive survey looks at the uses of decorative stonework and the variety of techniques used to produce it from prehistory to the present day, focusing especially on the period from its rebirth in sixteenth-century Rome through the developments of the nineteenth century.
The history of pietre dure in the modern era began in Rome in the 1500s where, thanks to patrons' commissions, new techniques and new types of designs appeared, intended for interior and furniture decoration. These innovations spread throughout Italy in the seventeenth century, producing the most spectacular period in the history of pietre dure in Florence under the Medici. In the eighteenth century numerous royal workshops based on the Florentine model appeared across Europe, under the patronage of the Hapsburgs in Prague, Louis XIV in France, and Frederick II in Prussia.
The author looks at outstanding examples of decorative stonework through time, including Roman intaglio, medieval silverware, the Mughal throne room in Delhi, and Frederick II's pietre dure room at Potsdam. The richly illustrated book captures the beauty and craftsmanship of this ancient technique for "painting in stone."
Annamaria Giusti is chief curator, Opificio delle Pietre Dure e Laboratori di Restauro, in Florence.224 pages
10 1/4 x 13 1/4 inches
300 color illustrations
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum