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Sotheby's London sets auction record for a hardstone inlaid table top at £3.5 million
An Italian pietre dure table top inlaid with the arms and symbols of the Grimani Family, probably to a design by Bernardino Poccetti (1548-1612) Grand Ducal Workshops, Florence, circa 1600 - 1620. Est. £400,000- 600,000. Sold for £3,509,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Today, at Sotheby’s London, The Grimani Tables, two of the greatest inlaid hardstone and antique marble table tops ever made sold for a combined total of £5,134,000.

Made in Florence circa 1600-1620, the first table top set a world auction record for any hardstone inlaid top table top at £3,509,000 / $5,323,855 / €4,839,252. Five bidders competed for this highly unique piece of art in a 10-minute bidding battle, driving the final price high above its pre-sale estimate (est. £400,000-600,000 / $620,000-930,000 / €565,000-845,000). This magnificent pietre dure top with the arms and symbols of the Grimani Family was probably a gift from a member of the Medici family to the Grimanis.

No fewer than four bidders vied for the second table top which sold to a private collector for a staggering £1,625,000 / $2,465,450 / €2,241,033 – the second highest price for an inlaid Roman table top sold at auction (est. £300,000-500,000 / €421,000-705,000 / $463,000-775,000). This antique marble and lapis lazuli inlaid top from the last quarter of the 16th century was purchased by or given to a member of the Grimani family, in all likelihood Doge Marino Grimani (1532 - 1605) whilst in Rome in 1585 and 1592.

Commenting on the sale, Mario Tavella, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby’s Europe and Head of House Sales and Single Owner Collections said: “Being able to present two pietre dure and antique marble table tops with the same provenance is extraordinary rare so when these works of art are of such quality and boast such exceptional provenance, it is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime event in the career of a specialist. The landmark price achieved today by this sublime Florentine pietre dure top, whose provenance is fully documented since 1623, is reflective of a highly unique piece of art”.

The two tables remained in the Grimani family until 1830. The Grimani family, one of the most illustrious Venetian dynasties, rose to the heights of political and clerical power in Venice during its golden age in the late 15th and 16th centuries. By 1600 the then head of the family Marino Grimani (1532 - 1605) was the Doge and the family was established in not one but two of the city’s greatest palaces, The Palazzo Grimani di Santa Maria Formosa and the Palazzo Grimani di San Luca on the Grand Canal. It was in these two buildings that they displayed their great collections which included the foremost group of antiquities ever to have been assembled in the Lagoon, together with cameos and gems, Venetian and non-Venetian paintings and outstanding works of art including the famous Grimani Breviary (now in the Biblioteca Marciana, Venice).

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