Inlay work table top

This table top with vases, flowers, birds, grape vines and ears of corn is a semi precious stone mosaic dating to the 17th century.

With a vast range of over 600 stones from all over the world, it was the Medici family which initiated this historic, precious inlay work tradition. This table top decorated with polychrome inlay work on Oriental chalcedony is an extraordinary example of an ancient technique which exploits the natural painting palette of stones to create painterly effects.

The collection

The art work

“Semi precious stones are materials which can be inlaid into every sort of work and it is for this reason that their antiquity and memory is better conserved that in any other material”. This is how Vasari described the art of Florentine mosaic and this table is a splendid example of it: a semi precious stone mosaic depicting a multi-coloured garden of Eden in which two large golden vases play a centre stage role with flowers and exotic birds with their feathers magically turned into stone.

Alongside these, birds representing Christian images of the blessed in paradise rest on grape vines while the earthworms and butterflies are death and resurrection allusions. On the mosaic stones, gold veins and ears of corn create delicate contrasting light effects of a phantasmagorical polychrome Garden of Eden inlaid onto a chalcedony background itself made iridescent with silver plate.