The J. Paul Getty Museum

Pietre dure Table

Object Details


Pietre dure Table




tabletop 1580–1600; base 1825


Pietre dure and marble commesso (mosaic) top including breccia di Tivoli (or Quintilina), giallo antico, nero antico, breccia rossa, breccia cenerina, breccia verde, broccatello, bianco e nero antico, serpentine, alabaster fiorito and alabaster tartaruga, lapis lazuli, coral, rock and yellow and black jasper on a carved and gilt wood base

Object Number:



136.5 × 113 cm (53 3/4 × 44 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

The technique of hard- and softstone inlay flourished in ancient Greece and Rome and was revived in Renaissance Italy, particularly in Rome and Florence. In early Renaissance examples geometric patterns prevailed, but by the end of the 1500s, as the demanding technique was mastered, artists began to include more pictorial elements, such as the scrolling foliage on this tabletop. Each decorative component is outlined in white marble, which sets off every richly colored and patterned element from the other and emphasizes the table's jewel-like quality.

This tabletop must have been produced after 1559, since the stone of the large central oval, known as breccia di Tivoli, was only discovered around this time. The stone was highly prized for its rarity and its variegated colors, which resemble gems set in dark stone.