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'Pietra dura' is a method of inlaying multicoloured semi-precious stones to create patterns, flowers, landscapes, portraits and scenes. This art form was developed in the Florentine granducal factory of the Medici court in the late 16th century. With the end of princely patronage (19th century), private workshops engaged in the renewal of the mosaic to appease the taste of their international clientele. The most popular subjects were sentimental domestic scenes, glimpses of rural life inspired by Victorian art, or scenes of gallantry derived from French literature. The rendering of the images captured the effects of light and the expressions of the figures with vivid realism and stunning virtuosity. Important commissions received by foreign clients, like the American heiress and art patron Marjorie Merriweather Post, allowed the surviving of one of the most exclusive arts, when patronage switched from the princes to the art dealers. The art of 'mosaic portrait' was also re-introduced by Giovanni Montelatici (1864-1933), founder of the contemporary generation of mosaic artists in Florence. At the end of the book a technical section illustrates the process of the mosaic work and contains photographs of specimens of the typical materials used. Of special interest is a comprehensive appendix listing the mosaics documented in museum, private collections, auctions and period photos.