For Soul and Body by Oreste Innocenti

  • Polished marbles and minerals create a detailed scene in this monumental pietre dure work
  • The charming scene was composed by the great Florentine pietre dure artist Oreste Innocenti
  • Entitled For Soul and Body, it depicts an elderly peasant couple sitting down for a meal and prayer
  • The meticulously cut, vibrant hardstones create the perfect trompe l'oeil effect
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-2372

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Oreste Innocenti
1865-1948 | Italian

For Soul and Body

Signed "Innocenti" (top center)
Pietre dure

Magnificent and colorful, this enchanting Florentine work of art is not a painting, but upon closer inspection is revealed to be a superb example of the intensive art of pietre dure. It uses hundreds of different kinds of polished marble and minerals in place of paint to create a charming scene of an elderly peasant couple seated at a table, the woman holding a rosary and the man enjoying a plate of beans. The plaque is highly detailed and amazingly realistic, from the couple's wrinkled faces and patterned clothing to the individual beads of the woman's rosary. Each piece is carefully chosen for color and pattern, cut with the utmost precision and precisely inlaid onto a stone base, thereby creating an image of such beauty and skill as to have the perfect trompe l'oeil effect.  

The art of pietre dure developed from the ancient art of opus sectile, where materials were cut and inlaid into walls and floors to form a decorative pattern. Florentine craftsmen revived the art during the Renaissance, and the first known hard stone workshop was established by the Medici family in 1588. Quickly growing in popularity, the art was also practiced in courts throughout Europe, and most especially in the courts of Naples, Madrid, Prague and Paris.

The technique requires that fine marbles and stones be inlaid into a stone base. By using materials of varying color, artisans were able to create patterns and pictures in much the same manner as a mosaic. The technique was expensive, requiring not only precious materials, but highly skilled craftsmen. As a result, many works were completed using imitation marble and are known as "scagliola." True marble and stone pietre dure works such as this are very rare and highly collectible.

Oreste Innocenti was a particularly inspired maker of pietre dure plaques and is counted among the masters of the art form. His works have previously belonged to the famed Gilbert Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London).

This pietre dure plaque is featured prominently in the book Painted in Stone written by Ana Maria Massinelli.

Circa 1890

Plaque: 15" high x 23 1/2" wide
Frame: 21" high x 29 1/2" wide
For Soul and Body by Oreste Innocenti
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: Italy
Type: Other Fine Art
Depth: 2.0 Inches
Width: 29.5 Inches
Height: 21.0 Inches
Canvas Width: 23.5 Inches
Canvas Height: 15 Inches

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