Look what Patrick Howard Antiques has put up for sale on-line:
852. Grand Tour Pietra Dura Italian Ormolu Picture Photo Frame Still Life Flowers
A Superb Grand Tour Ormolu Bronze and Pietra Dura Highly Decorative Framed Oval Form Plaque, of exceptional quality and Italian origin, opening to reveal a similar form Photo Frame, complete with original very ornate Ormolu Bronze framed easel with Greek Key detailing, early to mid-Nineteenth Century.
The Plaque is finely inlaid depicting Still Life of Flowers, to include a white Summer Rose and a Lilly on a leafy branch on a black onyx ground.
Condition: Good condition, with no losses. The inner ormolu picture frame is glazed as is the marble plaque. The support at back is a little loose otherwise in superb untouched condition.
Width: (at base of frame) 6" (15.75cm). Height: (entire including frame) 10” (25.5cm).
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 it’s 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, and works in pietra dura are often portable.
This Offering is a superb example of this ancient craft.