The History of Florentine Mosaic

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The use of semi-precious stone inlay to portray images was introduced in Florence by the Medici family in the 16th century at the height of the Renaissance. Cosimo de’ Medici collected ancient cameos and gems, and his interest was developed by his son Piero and then by his grandson Lorenzo the Magnificent.

Florentine craftsmen were called to repair and imitate the antique semi-precious stone inlay that reached Florence from Rome, Constantinople, and the Orient. In the 16th century Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, collected rare and precious stones to decorate the interior of the Medici mausoleum in a chapel of San Lorenzo. Cosimo’s son, Grand Duke Ferdinando, founded the Opificio delle Pietre Dure (state restoration laboratory and semi-precious stone workshop) in 1588 that has been the leader in the field of art restoration ever since.

The G. Ugolini firm, established in 1868, has kept the Florentine mosaic art tradition alive, commissioning jewelry, panels and boxes, all according to the original technique of the commesso di pietre dure, also known as Florentine mosaic.

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