The art of natural stone: let’s discover the art work of Florence’s workshop

PietreColorate testata


If you travel to Mantua, you may visit the striking exhibition of Chagall in the palace ‘Palazzo della Ragione’ in the middle of the historic centre between Piazza delle Erbe and Basilica di Sant’Andrea. 

But those of us who love marble and natural stones will find another reason to visit the wonderful city  near the river Mincio, surrounded by several lakes: the exhibition in the palace ‘Palazzo Ducale’ was opened  in mid-October and can be visited until 31st March 2019, it’s titled:   “Pietre colorate molto vaghe e belle” (graceful and beautifully coloured natural stones). 

The subtitle of the exhibition reads: “Timeless art from the museum of the workshop of semi-precious stones”. A valuable collection of artwork is exposed, the pieces of semi-precious stones were made in the workshop of semi-precious stones in Florence, for which the entire world envy us.   This famous workshop is based on the antique craft and art manufactory of Florence  and  was founded in 1588 during the Grand-Ducal period to teach workers the famous mosaic artwork of Florence, which is called "commesso fiorentino" in Italian.

Unlike the usual mosaic  technique, this one doesn’t use geometric mosaic tiles.  Big pieces are carved from marble, porphyry, Jasper, Agate and Lapis lazuli,  then, according to their colour, dullness, glossiness and vein shades, are patiently composed to a  ‘stone image’ …  In this way, numerous art works of inestimable value, such as furnishings and objects, have been created.  At that time, they even duplicated paintings with this unique technique,  which are now exposed in museums all over the world to witness  the geniality and singularity of Florence’s artwork.

Don’t miss this exhibition, you can even visit a showroom entirely dedicated to finishing techniques and antique tools. It’s unbelievable that these unique pieces of art were made with primitive tools, but you have to discover them yourself, because pictures do them no justice.    

Therefore, we recommend you to visit Mantua and the Palazzo Ducale. Take a look at the wonderful frescoes in the Wedding room that were painted by Mantegna.  Then start the exhibition tour where you can admire the famous painting ‘l'Allegoria della Terra’ (1750)  from Giuseppe Zocchi as well as a stone replica, produced in 1752 by the Grand-Ducal Manufactory on request of the Emperor Francis Stephen of Lorraine, which is normally exposed in the Vienna Hofburg.  Another exhibit is a modern mosaic picture from Florence’s workshop, where the practical aspect of artistic creation and the hidden secrets of art techniques are at the centre.  

During the 20th century and especially after the great flood in 1966, the workshop in Florence has been gradually reformed  into an educational institute, specialized in art restoration. It has now become a College and teaching centre for future restorers of cultural goods. The displayed art works are real masterpieces made of natural stone. Flowers and animals have been manufactured with great  craftsmanship and look like real paintings, indeed, it’s hard to believe that they are made of stone.   Admire the marble tables with skilful inlays which represent music instruments,  marine animals and shells, which appear three-dimensional.  You will be tempted to smell the flower decorations, because they seem so real and you’ll surely appreciate the copies of paintings.

46126330 2159391770740784 8404600521180053504 N
46130914 2159596670720294 3831500531889602560 N
46085482 2159392027407425 9149175909880692736 N
46137523 2159391694074125 8277568140322275328 N
46240059 2159392117407416 4748850373165318144 N
46260373 2159596690720292 3057101461516189696 N
46148636 2159392074074087 8967028979672285184 N
46179482 2159391997407428 8481338439864680448 N
46120939 2159391827407445 6552594955104157696 N
46164375 2159391877407440 7040192786808700928 N
46210062 2159391890740772 4554017471069159424 N
46205278 2159391947407433 4813786219936743424 N
46137476 2159596660720295 1561898078762434560 N