Inlay work table top

This 18th century Florentine mosaic table top with a porphyry base is decorated with shell, coral and pearl motif patterns.

This porphyry table top with its shell, coral and pearl motif decorations is emblematic of the semi precious stone working technique also known as ‘stone painting’ precisely because these fine mosaics with their meticulous juxtaposition of hundreds of stone fragments required sophisticated technical expertise and produced work designed to last for ever.

The collection

The art work

A seabed composition packed with shells, corals and pearls stands out against the red background of this porphyry table creating an optical illusion of colourful brush strokes on a canvas. In actual fact it is an example of what is frequently called ‘stone painting’, i.e. the art of recreating painterly effects using thousands of tiny pieces of semi precious stones taken from plate fragments of which every single vein and streak were used to obtain the widest imaginable range of shades of natural colour to create colour effects.

Nature’s creativity was supplemented with the expert precision of artists whose experience enabled them to recognise the painterly potential of each single raw material and exploit it in entirely hand made work.