Pietre Dure in NYC

Most of my life I’ve been drawn to works of art that involved the detailed and sometimes intricate inlay of wood or hard surfaces, like marble or semi-precious stones.  For many years, I’ve been attracted to furniture and boxes that had well-designed and intricate wood inlaid patterns.  And for the past few years, since visiting Italy, my exposure to inlaid art has expanded to what the Italians call pietre dure, which translates as ‘hard stone’, involving mostly marble and sometimes semi-precious stone.   The art form flourished toward the end of the 16th century in Florence, primarily under the supervision and support of the Medici family.   There is something about the incredible craftsmanship that went into making a work of pietre dure that really appeals to me.    Today, while in New York, I visited the new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called “Art of the Royal Court:  Treasures of Pietre Dure From the Palaces of Europe”.  It’s billed as the “first in-depth survey” of this craft, with over 170 examples to look at, and be mesmerized by.   The intricacy of inlaying finely cut marble is amazing.  The exhibit is fantastic:  I didn’t realize that many of the works had birds as part of the design;  the Italians thought that birds were 'souls of the blessed’.  It’s all there through September 21.