Believe it or not but this isn't a painting. It's an example of pietre dure which, in Italian, means hard rock. A new exhibit of art from European palaces is showcasing this unique and amazingly beautiful art form. From the article: hard rock or hardstone, refers foremost to an intricate inlay of finely cut, highly polished slices of semiprecious stones: agate, lapis lazuli, jasper, carnelian, alabaster, rock crystal, amethyst.
Pietre dure could be flat. Fashioned into radiantly colored geometric patterns, floral designs, landscapes or mythological scenes, it was incorporated into tabletops, cabinets of all sizes, wall panels, portable altars, jewelry boxes and other furnishings. Such works could also be in the round: carved hardstone sculptural busts, statuettes, vases, snuff boxes, cameos, jewelry and miraculously thin-walled bowls.
I'm just loving this style of art, which had its golden age during the Renaissance. As a wannabe-artist and lover of semi-precious stones this seems the perfect blending of the natural beauty to be found within the earth and the ingenuity of the human creative spirit. And strangely enough, finding this article was very timely as I've just recently begun considering adding some stones to a wood burning or possibly to a collage. I couldn't do things like the above picture of the Parthenon as I'm not a lapidary nor do I have access to a great quantity of stones. But I'd still like to utilize the magical properties of gemstones in a creative way. I'm still figuring out the logistics of such a prospect but am greatly inspired by pietre dure and will pursue my plans.