Pietre dure: The tomb of Cecilia Metella

This intricately detailed panel was made by precisely arranging cut and highly polished hardstones to form an image – a technique known as pietre dure. Originally created as one of a six-part series for Ferdinando III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, the production of the series stopped when Napoleon’s French armies invaded Italy in 1799. Only four were completed. This panel features the Mausoleo di Cecilia Metella (Tomb of Cecilia Metella) which, by 1800, was a frequent stop for visitors on Grand Tours of Europe.

The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London