Florence Italy XVII Century
183 x 78,5 cm
Private collection. The Netherlands.
This kind of panels were produced in the royal Florentine pietre dure (or hard stone) workshops founded by Ferdinando de’ Medici in 1588. The Medici was the ruling family of Florence, and they demonstrated their prestige and artistic ambitions through the production of these mosaics made of semi-precious hardstones and marbles. The brilliant and glowing colors of the stones, combined with the technical virtuosity needed to work them made panels like these a luxury item that appealed to the rulers of Europe.
In emulation of the great palaces of ancient Rome, these sumptuous materials were used to decorate the walls and furnishings of the royal residences and churches of Florence. The Florentine workshops, however, innovated the use of hardstones in these panels by departing from the abstract patterns used by the Roman workshops before them. In addition, the Florentines demonstrated technical virtuosity in the cutting of the stones, which, under their expert hands, could be cut down to strips as thin as 1/8 of an inch.