Pietra paesina, the marble in the centre of these plaques, is mined from the Arno area of Italy. Its literal translation, "landscape stone" alludes to its unusually coloured and figured graining. These patterns were created when stone fractured due to the earth's movement and water passed through and reacted to the oxides in its chemical make-up. The marble produced as a result can be cut in such a way to exploit these patterns. Small plaques of pietra paesina were popular for the decoration of cabinets and tables, as well as 'pictures' in their own right such as the present examples.
Pictorial hardstone panels, literally 'paintings in stone' and often incorporating pietra paesina, were first developed in the Grand Ducal workshops of Florence, founded in 1588 by Ferdinando de Medici. A cabinet in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence, made for the Grand Duchess Vittoria della Rovere, incorporating such landscape panels, is illustrated in A.M. Giusti, Pietre Dure Hardstone in Furniture and Decorations, London, 1992, p. 68, fig. 43.