Pietra Dura, ca. 1900
Appraised Value: $10,000 - $15,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Pietra Dura: "Rock Art"
This stunning work of stone inlay is so intricate, at first the expert mistook it for a painting. More on the history of this impressive technique
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Appraisal Video: (2:13)
Decorative Arts, Rugs & Textiles
Appraiser of Fine Art and Antiques
Szescila Appraisal Service
APPRAISER: When you first brought this in to my table, I thought that you had gone to the wrong table. I thought this was a painting, and I started to say, "Paintings are over there." And then I realized it's not a painting at all; it's actually made with stone. It's a pietra dura, and it's made of many, many pieces of stone. Where did you get this?
GUEST: This has been in the family for about 60 years, from my grandfather. He originally got this when he was overseas, uh, working for a big heavy equipment company. And it was a gift from Joseph Stalin.
APPRAISER: So, he was working in Russia?
GUEST: Working in Russia during the changeover from horses to tractors.
APPRAISER: And do you have any documentation of any kind that it was actually given by Stalin to your grandfather?
GUEST: No, just a lot of stories passed down through the family.
APPRAISER: Well, it's done probably in the late 19th Century. This is a very common image that you see in a lot of prints that are done about 1895 or around 1900. There is a signature here. This is probably the person who did the print rather than the person who's done this image. And with pietra dura, there are things that you look for for value. First of all, this is one of the largest pieces that I have seen. So that adds to the value and certainly to the rarity and collectibility of it. With pietra dura, you like to have as small as pieces as possible. If you look at her hair, you can see that they've actually cut little tiny pieces of the stones-- it's a hard stone-- put together to make her hair. Just the opposite, the bigger the pieces-- like you see these large pieces here and on across the sky-- that makes it not quite as valuable, because people like to see more of the smaller pieces all over the picture. Rather than Russian, I think it's probably Italian. At auction, it would probably go for somewhere between $5,000 to $7,000. And if you saw it in an upscale antique shop or decorator shop, I would think that it would probably go somewhere between $10,000 to $15,000.
GUEST: Mm-hmm, interesting, good.
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