This decorative wall panel is a truly beautiful piece of ‘pietra dura’ work. Italian for ‘hard stone’, ‘pietra dura’ may be described as operating somewhere between the art of sculpture, inlay and mosaic. The panel was made using the ‘commesso’ (‘fitted together’) technique, developed in Florence in the late 16th Century, which involves inlaying variously shaped and coloured stones onto a backing. These are often different types of marble or gemstone, such as quartz, chalcedony, agate, jasper, granite, porphyry, and lapis lazuli, and occasionally precious stones are used, like ruby, emerald and sapphire.
The panel depicts a vase full of flowers, which is composed of red, white, blue, green, orange and yellow stones. Parts of the design are inlaid into the black stone backdrop, but some details, including several flowers, project outwards in three-dimensional shapes. This variety of form gives the image the illusion of depth and space. The flower vase is displayed within a wooden frame, with a glass front (visible in final image), which is decorated with gilt borders.