Musing of the Muses


Then in that environment, imagine stumbling across ‘The Table of the Muses’ (in the Palatine Gallery, Florence, and made by the Opificio delle Pietre Dure between 1837 and 1851), in which all detail (as above and below) is created of thin slivers of semi-precious stone, inlaid into a background of lapis lazuli.

IMG_2017Shading within each petal is created by choosing an individual piece of stone in which the colour naturally varies.

IMG_2021Unlike any other depiction of flowers of the time, it’s as if light penetrates deep into the surface, lingers there for a while, and re-emerges saturated in colour. There’s a pearlescent transparency to every piece. You would have been held, totally spellbound.


The image to the right is of Anemone pavonina, which, by some happy coincidence, happened to be in full bloom in my garden upon my return (below). Thanks to Marcus Harvey for confirming ID