Sculpting in stone is one of humankind’s oldest and most celebrated artistic traditions. Since antiquity, skilled artisans have manipulated agate, malachite, marble, porphyry and other hardstones into exquisite objects and works of lapidary art. The ancient Greeks produced Hellenistic sculpture with a naturalism that still captivates the world, while the Romans turned the mosaic into an art form. Later masterpieces in stone, from nudes carved in marble to impossibly intricate micromosaics, continue to inspire both awe and envy. 

 We have carefully curated an impressive selection of antique hardstone objects from around the world, culminating in this exhibition entitled The Art of Stone. The collection offers the very best hardstone creations ever made by Western artisans.

On view at M.S. Rau  
French Quarter gallery

March 26, 2020 — May 23, 2020

Monday - Saturday
9:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.


622 Royal Street
New Orleans

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© 2018 Rau Antiques. All rights reserved

630 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Mon. - Sat. 9:00AM - 5:15PM

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Albert Bierstadt, View of Niagra Falls From Prospect Point

Gilbert Stuart, Portrait of George Washington

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Pietre Dure Console Tables

Pietre Dure Casket

Florentine Pietre Dure Plaque

M.S. Rau

Located in the heart of the
historic French Quarter 

622 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130


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The Art of Stone

Masterpieces in Marble,
Micromosaic and Pietre Dure

Colosseum Micromosaic Table
Gilt bronze and micromosaic 
Circa 1850

The micromosaic top of this gilt bronze table features a central medallion depicting the Colosseum, which is surrounded by a floral wreath border of pink roses and green foliage. Hundreds of miniature glass and stone tiles were assembled to create these meticulous images, which required both great skill and patience to create. Given the fastidious nature of the art form, small- scale micromosaic objects such as snuff boxes were much more typical —very few tables featuring almost full micromosaic tops were ever made. 

fl.1850-1865 • Italian
The Battle of Anghiari
Pietre dure in blackened 

wooden frame
Circa 1880

Based on a lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci, which was later copied by Peter Paul Rubens (Musée du Louvre, Paris), this exceptional pietre dure was executed by Enrico Bosi. The artisan was renowned for the realism of his plaques, and this scene is particularly impactful, evoking the drama of this battle between the Italian League and the Republic of Milan. The delicacy of Bosi’s choice of stones, including onyx, jasper and agate, and the precision of their cuts make it a true masterpiece. 

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622 Royal Street
New Orleans, LA 70130

Mon. - Sat. 9:00AM - 5:15PM

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© 2018 Rau Antiques. All rights reserved

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Discover the CollectionDownload the Exhibition Catalog



The great period of prosperity known as the Dutch Golden Age has its roots in the Eighty Years’ War, or the Dutch War of Independence.

At a time when royalty, the nobility and the Church were the major patrons of art throughout Europe, in the new Dutch Republic




At a time when royalty, the nobility and the Church were the major patrons of art throughout Europe, in the new Dutch Republic

The great period of prosperity known as the Dutch Golden Age has its roots in the Eighty Years’ War, or the Dutch War of Independence.



Pietre Dure

The art of pietre dure (literally meaning “hard stones”) has been appreciated for centuries, both for its beauty and the high level of technical skill that it requires. The technique developed from the ancient art of opus sectile, where materials were cut and inlaid into walls and floors. Florentine craftsmen revived the art during the Renaissance, and the first known hardstone workshop was established by the Medici family in 1588.

 Known as the Grand Ducal Workshop, it became highly specialized in the ancient stonework technique, overcoming the many challenges of fashioning and assembling hardstones. Florentine production reached its zenith during this period, with expert craftsmen giving rise to the most luxurious and detailed examples to ever be produced.

 Quickly growing in popularity, the art was also practiced in courts throughout Europe, from Naples to France and Spain to Prague. The technique was both expensive and time consuming, requiring not only precious materials, but also highly skilled craftsmen.

The Battle of Anghiari by Enrico Bosi

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Micromosaics are formed from hundreds of thousands of tiny glass and stone tiles, or tesserae, each perfectly matched for color and size to create a trompe l’oeil effect that “tricks” the eye. The popular technique unsurprisingly has its roots in ancient Rome, when the upper classes decorated their homes with massive mosaic pieces.

 The art of the micromosaic re-emerged during the 19th century, most notably in the workshops of the Vatican, finding favor among the surge of affluent tourists making their requisite Grand Tour across Europe. Micromosaics of landscapes, monuments, piazzas and cityscapes were produced in order to appease the high demand of the Grand Tourists.

 While most micromosaics were small in size and set into souvenir objects such as jewelry or snuff boxes, some large examples were made, either to be set into furniture or as stand-alone works of art. Remarkably expensive and time-consuming to produce, these large-scale pieces were almost always made by special commission.

St. Peter's Square Italian Micromosaic

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Micromosaic and Pietre Dure Grand Tour Casket

The Colosseum by Luigi Gallandt

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Micromosaic and Doré Bronze Side Table

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Roman Forum Micromosaic by Domenico Moglia

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Blue John

Blue John is perhaps Britain’s most elusive and highly coveted naturally-occurring hardstone. Discovered by the Romans over 2,000 years ago, the semi-precious gemstone is found only among the caverns of Treak Cliff Hill in Derbyshire, England. Beloved for its unique bands of blues, purples and violets, it derives its name from the French words for blue and yellow — bleu and jeune.

 Blue John was in high demand during the 18th and early 19th centuries in the realm of the decorative arts. Large pieces were set into furniture and formed into urns as the upper classes clamored to own a piece of the popular stone. Blue John was even worked into columns in some of the finest houses in Great Britain, most famously Chatsworth, home of the Duchess of Devonshire.

 However, the largest veins of Blue John disappeared by the early 19th century, and today only two working Blue John Stone mines remain, producing only a minuscule amount of the precious stone. The small amount that remains is buried in the veins of limestone which reside deep within Treak Cliff Cavern and Blue John Cavern.

Neoclassical Blue John Table

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Georgian Blue John and Silver Urn

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George III Marble and Blue John Dolphin Tazza

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Blue John Covered Urn

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Discover More from the Collection

Marble Bust of Apollo

Love's First Dream by Edward Russell Thaxter

Bust of Pope Innocent XI by Domenico Guidi

Grand Tour Marble and Ormolu Obelisks

Italian Grand Tour Marble Plaques

18th-Century Rouge de France Marble Pedestal

Viennese Agate and Enamel Covered Urn

Boucheron Agate, Gold and
Diamond Presentation Coupe

Pietra Paesina Specimen Table Attributed to Gillows

The Battle of Issus Chess Set

Amethyst Triple Candelabra

Carved Citrine Lion by Andreas von Zadora-Gerlof

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Gilt Bronze and Amethyst Urns

Saint Mary Magdalene on Alabaster





Russian Malachite and Pietre Dure Plinths