Style Napoleon III / Ref.10665
Rare pedestal table in pietra dura
Width: 22'' ½ 57cm
Height: 30'' ¼ 77cm
France, circa 1880
Very good condition
The shelf of this pedestal table was realized in pietra dura, a craft made famous for its extreme sophistication, which was developed in Italy during 16th century. This art consists in the inlay of semi-precious stones and requires exceptional precision and delicacy in the cutting of stones and their assembling. Known in Ancient Rome and byzantine art, this technique enabling to « paint in stone » provokes the admiration of Grand Duke Ferdinando I de’ Medici, who creates in 1588 the Galleria di’Lavori dedicated to its production. The pietra dura, enabling the representation of still lives, landscapes, and even portraits, becomes hence indivisible from Florence, epicenter of the Renaissance art, and seduces the Courts across Europe.
The sophistication of the Florentine work consists in taking advantage of the stones shades and textures to create the illusion of depth and volume which is specific to painting. For instance, the fragility of butterflies wings and the shapes of the shells on our pedestal table are perfectly legible and would make us forget they are thin stone inlays. A close observation of these inlaid designs reveals the admirable artist’s work, who skillfully oriented to veins in the stone to « paint » an effect of volume, like on the shell with a red coral. He also cut minuscule details with extreme meticulousness, which yet guarantee the perfection of the totality, like the yellow stone trims or the attention to the branch point curves. The concern for precision, rivaling with natural sciences taxonomy, is even extended to the drawing of butterflies legs, hardly visible.
Among the variety of objects that were decorated in pietra dura, the round pedestal table, decorated with circularly organized motifs, on a dark background, is a key piece of Florentine production. With its natural motifs alternating butterflies and shells circling a spray of white flowers, the decoration is explicitly referring to the vocabulary of the Medici’s Galleria di’Lavori.
The Galleria became in the late 19th century the Opificio delle pietre dure, museum of hard stone marquetry, which preserves a pedestal table decorated in a very similar way to that we present today. The Florence museum’s specimen is indeed decorated with a ring of shells alternating nacre pearls mounted on a blue ribbon and red coral branches. Our table for its part, shows a shell with a blue lapis lazuli ribbon and nacre pearls, another with a green malachite ribbon and a third with bright red coral. The crown of white flowers in its center is also very clearly inspired from the model of which the Florence table is a specimen.
This sophisticated art stayed fashionable during 19th century, at which time was made the pedestal table we present today.
The shelf diameter is 57,5 cm (22'' 1/2), and the leg's width is 44 cm (17'' 1/3).
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