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"Return from Market"
The Victoria & Albert Museum
This pietre dure (or pietra dura, if you prefer) scene of hardstone and marbles depicts a monk with two elderly men and a young woman. They’re accompanied by a group of animals as they journey home from market in a snowstorm.
Made in 1928 in Florence Italy—long known for its elegant works of pietre dure—the piece shows the enduring beauty of this technique. Each stone has been carefully chosen to create movement and texture in the scene. The veins of the marbles and the crystals of the other hardstones have been set in such a way as to emulate the look of a painter’s brushstrokes.
The work is attributed to Mario Montelatici, a well-known master of pietre dure in his own right and the son of the famed Giovanni Montelatici whose workshop in the Via Amolfo in Florence produced many an award-winning work. The piece is composed of white and bardiglio marble, onyx, gabbro and albarese. It is set in a gilt wood frame.