Italian Pietra Dura Smoking Tools I
This striking work was created in the method of pietra dura. This Italian term translates to “hardstone” and is applied to artworks that are made by combining pieces of this hardstone to create a particular image. This method derives from Roman stonework dating back to the 16th century. In the earlier years, artworks created with this method primarily depicted geometrical or nature-themed images. Overtime, as technology and skill in the field developed, pietra dura art was used to depict a wide variety of subjects. Here, a pipe and tobacco container are set against a solid black background and accentuated with a dazzling blue ribbon-shaped stone. The work was made in Italy during the 19th century, and is likely a souvenir from the grand tour. Grand tours were multi-month (and sometimes even multi-year) long journeys across Europe that upper class men would take as a part of their education. Most often, they visited Italian cities to learn about artefacts from antiquity and the Renaissance. It was common for these men to collect art during their journeys. While this painting may have travelled far and wide, it is now time for it to find a home, and will make a fascinating addition to any room.
At this time in Italy, most states on the Italian Peninsula were united by King Victor Emmanuel II (1820–1878), as one united country. Over the next decade, the capital of the newly founded country would change three times. From 1861–1865, the capital of Italy was in Turin, before moving to Florence at the end of this period, with the intent of approaching Rome, a city still under Papal rule and French protection. Once Napoleon III (1808–1873) was defeated in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Italian forces quickly occupied Rome. The city was officially named Italy’s capital on October 2, 1870, which it has remained to this day.