This rare and extraordinary pietre dure casket exemplifies the very best of the best in both 17th-century and 19th-century workmanship. Utilizing original period Florentine pietre dure plaques, the 17th-century pastoral scenes and plaques of semi-precious stones are mounted into this exceptional 19th-century ebonized casket with intricately hand-engraved doré bronze mounts. Without question, the materials used in this casket are the greatest that money could buy. The pietre dure plaques in particular were almost certainly fashioned at the Grand Ducal Workshops of Florence, which also produced the famed Badminton Cabinet. That cabinet was auctioned at Christie’s in December 2004 for a record 36.7 million dollars, making it the most expensive piece of furniture ever sold at auction.
Such an exquisite casket would have only been created for the most discriminating and affluent client. Most likely used as a wedding casket, it would have housed precious items given to commemorate the impending nuptials of someone of great importance. The absolute highest level of artistry went into its creation. The stones used came from every corner of the globe, and the impeccably lacquered wood indicates the time and care that went into its production. Stunning doré bronze mounts complement the unique stonework. All hardware, from the hinges to the lock, is gold-plated and expertly engraved by hand. The half mortise lock itself is a rare double strike lock, which required a much higher level of skill to manufacture. A perfectly-matched, custom-made base accompanies the casket giving its owner a beautiful way to display this amazing work of art.
15" high x 24 1/2" wide x 20 1/2" deep
It was the passion of the Medici for the pietre dure art form that led Grand Duke Ferdinando I de Medici to establish the Grand Ducal Workshop in 1588 that specialized in the ancient stonework technique. His interest was due in part because he wanted to adorn a number of stately residences with panels in this intricate art form, and he elevated the level of its importance above all other arts in Florence during the 17th century. Florentine production reached its zenith in this time, with expert craftsmen giving rise to the most luxurious and detailed examples to ever be produced. For that reason, pietre dure peaked the interests of the powerful. Rulers such as the Hapsburgs in Prague, Louis XIV of France and Frederick II of Prussia sought these prized 17th century works of art to decorate everything from cabinets and caskets to frames and tiny boxes, often matched with ebony and gilded bronze. Wealthy aristocrats making their Grand Tour through Italy also acquired a taste for Florentine pietre dure.
Pietre Dure: Hardstone in Furniture and Decorations, 1992, Anna Maria Giusti