Mosaic cabinet and clock. Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.74:1, 2-2008

Mosaic cabinet and clock. Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.74:1, 2-2008

Mosaic cabinet and clock
Pietre dure (hardstone mosaic), ebony, gilded bronze, brass, mother-of-pearl and ebonised wood
Cabinet: Italy, Florence; upper section Grand Ducal Workshops, Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652-1725)
Clock: Germany, Bonn; Johannes Hittorff (1757-1836)
Upper section and central panel below: 1700-5. Lower section: 1700-1800
Museum no. Loan:Gilbert.74:1, 2-2008

Foggini made this clock cabinet for Anna-Maria Luisa de' Medici (1667-1743), who had a large collection of pietre dure. Great skill was needed to make these hardstone mosaics, and the representation of pearls in particular was a demonstration of the craftsman's knowledge of the materials he worked with and the techniques he used.

The top half and central mosaic below predate the cabinet's enlargement, probably in the late 17th century. Hittorff's clock movement has replaced an earlier English movement by Ignatius Huggeford. The central panel in the base, added at the same time as the new clock movement, may originally have been intended to form part of a tray. It would appear that the panel was meant to be viewed horizontally, so that it would look like the pearls are lying on a flat surface, rather than as they are now.

Click here to watch a pietre dure panel being made