In the Pietra Dura technique, a stone is inlaid with other types of stone. In Florence, there is an entire museum dedicated to this technique, called Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure (“Museum of the Factory of the Hard Stones”). This art form is also known as “Florentine mosaic”.
Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure Florence
Opening hours, Admission and Address
Address: Via Alfani, 78 – 50121 Florence, Italy. Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 08.15 to 14.00 hrs. Closed: Sundays and public holidays; 24 June (feast day of the patron saint of Florence). Entrance fee: 4 Euro; 2 Euro for EU residents between 18 and 25 years old; free for EU residents over 65 and under 18.
The Museum of Hard Stones
It was especially in the 16th century that the Florentines perfected this art form. Usually marble was used as a base and gems and semi-precious stones were inlaid here.
It was Ferdinando I De Medici who founded the Galleria dei Lavori, which later became the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in 1588. The craftsmen who worked on the precious and rare stones for the decoration of the Cappella dei Principi were given a wing of the Uffizi in order to learn to perfect their craft. This “Chapel of the Princes”, inside the San Lorenzo Basilica, was where the Medici buried their dead. A section of the museum is dedicated to this chapel.
In 1796 Pietro Leopoldo had the museum moved to its current location.
The collection of the museum is rather limited. The Grand Dukes often donated the works of art to other royal families. As a result, some of the most beautiful examples are often shown in museums abroad.
Another problem was that many objects disappeared in the 19th century. This was stopped when the museum was officially built in 1882.
Nowadays, some rooms of the museum are also used to restore works.
Highlights Museo Opificio delle Pietre Dure
One of the most famous works is a panoramic view of the Piazza della Signoria.
The last room has a number of pieces of furniture and vases decorated in the art-déco style.
In addition to examples of the Pietre Dure technique, one can also see the tools and stones used. One room, moreover, shows the various stages of the production.
More Hard Stones in Florence
Famous examples of the Pietra Dura technique can also be seen in the Medici Chapels.