A Florentine 17th century ‘pietre dure’ panel depicting a coastal scene was the prize piece at Bonhams Fine European Furniture sale yesterday, 4th July, selling for £157,250, five times its pre-sale estimate. It was brought to a Bonhams valuation day in Suffolk earlier this year where it was recognized as something rather special.
This spectacular picture panel using stone marquetry was most probably from the Grand Ducal workshops in Florence. It was sold with a later English table, into which the panel was once inset. The rectangular panel measured 59cm x 34.5cm (23″ x 13.5″); the table: 74.5cm wide, 49.5cm deep, 76.5cm high (29″ wide, 19″ deep, 30″ high). It had been estimated to sell for £20,000-30,000 but determined bidding finally pushed the price to five times the top estimate.
The composition and use of stones in this panel relate it closely to a group of panels originally incorporated into a cabinet, and featuring landscapes with ruins and fishing scenes of 1709, which have been attributed to Baccio Cappelli, now in the Museo dell’Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence. Cappelli was a leading artist in the Grand Ducal Workshops, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, in Florence in the 18th century.
A related panel, part of the collection of Steinitz sold recently for £90,500, uses a similar type of translucent alabaster to render the clouds, a very comparable greyish/green stone for the sea, a similar striated pink/white marble to render clothing on some of the figures and the same black marble for the tree trunks.