Pietra Dura Artwork

This Italian stone inlay differs from mosaics because no grout is used in the seams



Your pietra dura picture is Italian and dates to the late 19th century. Pietra dura is an Italian term for the process of inlaying stone to form a pictorial or patterned design. Marble, semi-precious and even sometimes precious stones are cut and sliced using saws, wires, files, polishing cloths and other tools. The cut stones are then inset and glued down onto a stone substrate to create a design. The stones are so tightly fit together that the seams are difficult to see; pieta dura is unlike a mosaic that has grout between its joints. Artisans creating pietra dura utilize the natural and inherent properties in different stones to add to the imagery and detail.

Pietra dura developed in ancient Rome and was first used architecturally in floors. During the Italian Renaissance in Florence, the Medici family created a workshop where pietra dura began being used for more portable decorative art, such as table tops, drawer fronts, framed pictures and jewelry.

Widely considered a prized and coveted form, the popularity of pieta dura spread through Europe and into India. In the 17th century, the Taj Mahal was built and pietra dura (called Parchin Kari in India) was incorporated in its design, enabling the stone inlay industry to flourish.

Pietra dura can be quite valuable. We just appraised a more contemporary pietra dura dining table at $25,000. Pieces dating from the Renaissance through the 18th century can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your piece was made in the mid- to late-19th century in Italy and depicts an Italian villa on a hillside. It is made from a variety of marble, tiger’s eye and quartzite and is signed with a monogram by the artist.

As it is a smaller work with some condition issues and not too detailed, I would estimate its value at $200.

More from our series on Pamela Smart

Keeping Time

This still-functioning French carriage clock is a fine example of a quintessential 19th-century status symbol.

Blizzard in a Sphere

Did you know that some vintage snow globes can bring hundreds of dollars?

Ocean Liner Memorabilia Can Be Worth a Boatload

This International Silver Company ice bucket is worth a surprising amount.

Taking on the Spirit

African masks inspired the Cubist and abstract art movements.

Advertising a Historic Railroad

The beginning of “red carpet” treatment.

Lasting Symbol

The still-popular Claddagh originated in Ireland back in the early 1700s.

Hammered Artwork

Because it was handmade, copper repoussé was popular during the Arts and Crafts movement.

A Classic Mint Julep Cup

Mint julep cups are passed from generation to generation.
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Popular Articles

  1. The Power of Power
    Healthcare, Trump and the economy are all lower on NH’s wish list.
  2. 2018 It List
    If you wanted to host the ultimate cocktail party, these are the people you’d want to invite....
  3. Trail’s End Pond Hockey
    A rowdy band of adventurers sets out for a spirited game of ice hockey at zero degrees in the...
  4. The Pros and Cons of Legal Cannabis in NH
    All of our neighbors have legalized recreational cannabis to some degree. What does that mean for...
  5. The New Hood Museum of Art Revealed
    The Hood Museum at Dartmouth College in Hanover underwent a massive renovation and is ready to...
  6. Classic Yankee Recipes
    Ensuring that traditional New England dishes — pork pie, American chop suey, shepherd’s pie...
  7. Locally Made Food & Gift Ideas
    Give a gift that definitely won't be returned. Our Food Editor recommends everything from spreads...
  8. Decorate Your Home In White Christmas Style
    It’s time to deck the halls, and stylist Matthew Mead is dreaming of a White Christmas. Here...
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags