Pietre dure refers to the inlaying of coloured marbles and semi-precious stones into a stone ground to form decorative patterns or entire scenes. It is often described as 'painting in stone'. The technique was developed in the Grand Duchal workshops in Florence in the 16th century, where magnificent pietre dure table tops, cabinets and panels were created.
Landscape scenes, as seen in the top and the rear panel of this casket became increasingly popular in the late 17th century and evoke the rustic Tuscan landscape surrounding Florence. Their popularity was revived in the 19th century when it became fashionable for small panels such as these to be re-mounted in more practical ways, and used to hold jewellery and other small precious items of emotional significance to the owner.
A casket with comparable landscape panels can be found in Massinelli, Anna Maria with contributions by Jeanette Hanisee Gabriel, Hardstones: The Gilbert Collection. London, 2000. p. 329, ill. Cat. no. 7, p. 47
The Ottoman figures depicted in the front panel are closely related to a panel depicting a Greek Merchant of the Ottoman Empire, attributed to the Florentine painter and engraver Antonio Ciocci (c.1732-1792).