Painting in Stone

Painting in Stone

Seventeenth-century pietra dura panels from the collection of the late London art dealer, Sir Jack Baer, will be offered in our 13-14 September Fine Interiors auction.

5 August 2022

A group of 17th-century Florentine pietra dura panels, from the collection of Sir Jack Baer, are to be offered in two lots in our upcoming Fine Interiors sale on 13-14 September.


panels all


Italian for hardstone, ‘pietre dure’ involves the creation of decorative images and patterns using cut and polished slices of semi-precious stones, chosen for their beautiful colours and striations, which are then affixed to a slate backing. The art of inlaying hardstones for decorative use was used throughout many courts of Europe from the mid-sixteenth century, but it was at the Medici Court in Florence that it reached its apogee, particularly under the patronage of Cosimo I (r. 1569-74), his son Francesco (r. 1574-87), and Cosimo's brother Ferdinand I (r. 1587-1609), who formally established the Grand Ducal workshop, the Galleria dei Lavori, in 1588.




In the group of nine panels to be offered by Sworders, including eight rectangular and one demilune example, pale blue agate and translucent alabaster have been used in many of them to form the sky peppered with beautiful soft clouds.




Alongside this lot is another pair, simple in design, depicting a boar and a camel. In the manner of Baccio del Bianco for the Grand Ducal workshops, these bear many similarities to other known examples of del Bianco’s work. Active in the first half of the 17th century, del Bianco was, according to Anna Maria Giusti, known for simple depictions of animals in energetic and spirited poses, making use of soft stones in very similar palettes to the present examples. From the private collection of the late London art dealer, Sir Jack Baer, the pair carries a pre-sale estimate of £4,000-6,000.




Sir Jack Mervyn Frank Baer (1924-2016) was a British art dealer from the top tier. The man who built Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox into a world-class concern, he is remembered as one of the most enduringly successful and well-regarded London picture dealers of his generation.

In 1970 Baer married Diana, and together they furnished the home she had purchased fifteen years before, Phillimore Terrace just off London's Kensington High Street. Their home became a backdrop to their shared passion for collecting, from 19th-century French drawings to nautical folk art, contemporary ceramics, textiles, porcelain, and decorative objects, many of them bought from local antique shops and fairs.

From 1977 to 1980, Baer was chairman of the Society of London Art Dealers while his work with the Museums and Galleries Commission as chairman of the acceptance in lieu panel is said to have saved more than £150m worth of art for the nation. Knighted in 1997, he was a much-loved figure in the art world, renowned for his integrity, charm and wry sense of humour, his generosity of spirit and exquisite lunches were legendary.  




A small selection of highlights from our Fine Interiors sale, including the Florentine panels, is currently available to view at our London Gallery in Covent Garden's Cecil Court until 1 September, for further details on what you can see please do not hesitate to contact us. Viewing of the entire sale will follow at our Stansted Mountfitchet salerooms from 9-12 September.



For further information contact:

Fine Interiors |






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