19th century Florentine school

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Biography of 19th century Florentine school

For this work, the mosaic technique is used on hard stone. This type of marquetry first appeared in Florence in the early 16th century, and is also known as "pietra dura" or "commesso". Originally, artisans used pebbles from the Arno to create mosaics, later replacing them with smaller stones such as lapis lazuli. Coral and mother-of-pearl are also used to play on variations in tone and material.

Unlike traditional mosaics, which use tesserae, Florentine mosaics use larger pieces of different color and opacity to create the final design.  Once assembled, the stones form a kind of homogeneous picture called "glyptic". Although the technique of marquetry on hard stone has evolved, Florentine know-how is still very much alive.  The technique still consists of four essential steps: removing the stones, cutting the elements, assembling them and finally polishing them to perfect the color and cut of the stone. As they are cut, the elements are adjusted and then assembled with neighboring pieces. The resulting facing is then fixed to a flat surface, before the hot joints filling the gaps in the beveled fields are glued in place with rosin resin.

Hardstone marquetry is one of Florence's most prestigious crafts. In particular, the technique was used for the Grand Duke's projects and to decorate the Princes' Chapel in the Church of San Lorenzo.

From the late 19th century onwards, hardstone marquetry was used in other artistic fields. This typically Italian noble art spread to neighboring countries, and the world's greatest museums now boast works employing hardstone marquetry.

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