Questers experience – Italian Renaissance Stone Art

Sandi Newberry

The November meeting of the Catalina Timewalkers Chapter of Questers was hosted by Sandi Newberry with Martha Chilton as co-host. Sandi presented a program on “Pietre Dure: Florentine Mosaics.” Pietre Dure is an Italian term for the inlay technique of using cut and fitted, highly polished natural stones to create images. The most popular images were fruits, flowers, and birds. Some of the semi-precious stones used were jasper, topaz, agate, amethyst, carnelian, absidian, and lapis lazuli.

Many varied objects were created with Pietre Dure such as large table tops, and panels that were inserted into doors or drawers of cabinets. P.D. can be found in smaller items in the form of cameos, bowls, fountains, benches, medallions, and wall plaques. By the 20th century this type of stone art was in decline, partly due to the modernism movement.

Pietre Dure began with the Byzantines, and then flourished during the Italian Renaissance, which lasted from the 14th to the 17th century.

The Medici family, the prominent ruling family of Florence, Italy for 300 years, was very influential with the making of Pietre Dure stone art. Today, you can see examples of this decorative, mosaic art in the historic Medici Chapel, which began being built in 1605 and took over 200 years to complete.

What is Questers? We are an international organization whose purpose is to stimulate the appreciation of antiques and collectibles through study and to encourage the restoration and preservation of historic landmarks. We meet once per month in October through May, usually in a member’s home or tour an interesting historical site or museum.

We welcome new members and guests. If interested in more information about the Tucson area chapters, please call Sandi Newberry at 520-818-0199.