601. Superb Pietra Dura Italian Grand Tour Wall Plaques Gabriel The Archangel 19thCt

A Superb & Quite Rare Pair of Grand Tour Pietra Dura Highly Decorative Framed Wall Panels, of Italian origin, early mid Nineteenth Century. 

Depicting two views of Gabriel the Archangel playing his Trumpet contained within a very fine pair of later ebonised swept frames. 

Condition: Good condition for such early pieces, the plaques spent their lives within glass.  

These exceptional pieces were sourced in Ireland, came with their original similar frames which were quite distressed and beyond restoring.  

Width: (entire including frame) 8.25" (21cm). Height: (entire including frame) 13.25” (33.5cm). 

Pietra Dura is a term for using cut and fitted highly polished coloured stones to create images. The stonework is glued stone-by-stone to a base after being "sliced and cut in different shape sections, 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 like a jigsaw puzzle, with everything held in place by an encircling 'frame'. Many different colored stones, particularly various marbles were used, along with semiprecious stones. 


The technique first appeared in Rome in the 16th century. It reached its peak in Florence. Pietra dura items are generally crafted on green, white or black marble base stones. Typically the resulting panel is completely flat, but some examples have the image is in low relief. 

Pietra dura is also different from mosaics because stones are mostly much larger and cut to a shape suiting their place in the image, not all of roughly equal size and shape as in mosaic. In pietra dura, the stones are not cemented together with grout.  

These Plaques are a superb example of this ancient craft.