Marble, porphyry, granite, alberese stone, limestone, flowered, cotognino and Egyptian alabaster, lapis lazuli, rock crystal, jasper, agate… each precious stone has an exotic name and a special color, hue, and consistency.
Their inorganic material comes to life in splendid works of art, thanks to talented hands like those that reached the height of creativity at the Florentine school of gemstone engraving.
Their extraordinary treasure of cups, vases, reliefs, cameos, furniture and paintings has been gathered at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure Museum in Florence: wonderful pieces created in the Medicis’ artistic gemstone factory, officially founded by Ferdinando I de’ Medici in 1588. The factory was known for its excellent work, which was appreciated at royal courts across Europe.
Now the Museum, founded in 1882, showcases amazing unfinished specimens that survived dispersion in the 19th century, and bears testimony to the fine techniques once used to engrave gems in Florence, such as the so-called “Florentine mosaic”.
Unlike many other museums that have grown around a collector’s or curator’s project, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure Museum was built to reflect the life and events in the history of these prestigious and prolific workshops over the centuries.