In 1588 Grand Duke Ferdinando I founded the Galleria de' Lavori in Pietre Dure, a hardstone workshop, in Florence. He hired local craftsmen and trained them to restore ancient carved-stone objects as well as create original works in pietre dure.These artists soon perfected the art of making pictures with thin pieces of brightly colored stones set together much like a jigsaw puzzle.
During the 1600s the Galleria worked mainly on the decorations of the Medici family's chapel in the church of San Lorenzo, begun in 1605. But by the 1700s, when pietre durebecame increasingly fashionable, artists trained in this workshop traveled all over Europe to work for other noble or royal households.
Renamed the Opificio delle Pietre Dure in the mid-1800s, the workshop continues to operate today as a state-supported institution.