Pietre Dure Plaque by Tito Francolini

  • This exceptional pietre dure was executed by the Florentine artisan Tito Francolini
  • Dynamic in both materials and subject matter, it depicts a fierce battle between lion and snake
  • The meticulously cut, vibrant hardstones create the perfect trompe l'oeil effect
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-4937

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This extraordinary Florentine work of art has the appearance of a painted scene, but upon closer inspection is revealed to be a superb example of the art of pietre dure. Composed by Tito Francolini, the piece depicts a scene of a lion attacking a snake in the desert composed entirely of polished hardstone in place of paint. This composition is particularly impactful, with each piece of stone carefully chosen for both its color and pattern to perfectly convey the drama and movement of the scene. The dynamism of Francolini's choice of stones, including onyx, colored marbles and lapis lazuli, and the precision of their cuts make it a true masterpiece. These and other hardstones come together to create a work of such cohesion as to have the perfect trompe l'oeil effect.

Due to the intricacy and time-consuming nature of the craft, pietre dure artisans like Francolini had a very niche and high-wealth clientele. Few could afford such precious pictures crafted in stone, so pietre dure artists created pieces such as this on a commission basis for important clients. The most desirable works from this period display remarkable realism and intricacy in their execution, with a preference for rural subjects and natural landscapes, all qualities referenced in the present work.

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 hardstone workshop was established by the Medici family in 1588. Quickly growing in popularity, the art was also practiced in courts throughout Europe, most especially in the courts of Naples, Madrid, Prague and Paris.

This work is featured on page 20 of Anna Maria Massinelli’s book, Painting in Stone.

Signed and dated 1900 (en verso)

Plaque: 8 3/4" high x 12 5/8" wide
Frame: 14 5/8" high x 18 1/4" wide
Pietre Dure Plaque by Tito Francolini
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: Italy
Type: Other Fine Art
Depth: 1.25 Inches
Width: 18.25 Inches
Height: 14.63 Inches
Canvas Width: 12.625 Inches
Canvas Height: 8.75 Inches
Pietre Dure Plaque by Tito Francolini
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