Pietra dura animal panels

A set of nine 17th century Florentine pietra dura animal panels – £130,000.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

On September 13-14, Sworders offered property from 9 Phillimore Terrace, Kensington – home to art dealer Sir Jack Mervyn Frank Baer (1924-2016) and his wife Diana.

Baer was a British art dealer from the top tier. As the man who built Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox into a world-class concern, he is remembered as one of the leading London picture dealers of his generation. From 1977 to 1980, he was chairman of the Society of London Art Dealers.

He married Diana, a watercolour artist, RADA trained actress and the daughter of the novelist Mollie Panter-Downs (1906-97) and her husband Clare Robinson, in 1970.

The couple chose to live at the Kensington home she had owned since 1955 and so it was 9 Phillimore Terrace that provided a backdrop to their shared passion for collecting.

One wall of a living room was decorated with a series of Florentine pietra dura animal panels dating to the mid 17th century.

Framed in gilt and silvered gesso the set of nine panels (comprising eight rectangular examples) depicted two or more animals, together with a demilune panel depicting a recumbent lion.


A detail of one hardstone inlaid panel showing a bear hunt.

The art of inlaying hardstones for decorative use was used throughout many courts of Europe from the mid-16th century, but it was at the Medici Court in Florence the following century that it reached its apogee.

These panels, in good stable condition, are in the manner of Baccio del Bianco for the Grand Ducal workshops. Estimated at £60,000-80,000 they were competed by two phone bidders from the reserve up to £130,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

A pair of similar panels one depicting a wild boar, the other a dromedary sold to the same buyer, a London dealer, at £15,000.