Pietro Belloni, Italian, 1690-1771
Title: Scagliola Console Tabletop with a Seascape
Date: c.1746-1750
Medium: Inlaid selenite coloured plaster composition
3.9 x 95.7 x 75.3 cm
Credit Line: Milltown Gift, 1902
Object Number: NGI.12257
DescriptionPietro Belloni was a Benedictine monk of the Vallombrosa monastery near Florence. He learned his craft from his abbot, Erico Hugford, who refined the uncommon art of 'scagliolo' composition. This technique, which appears to have started in Italy in the late Renaissance time as a substitute for real marble, consisted of plaster made by pulverised selenite stone, mixed with glue and colour.

In the first half of the 18th century, the creation of scagliola surfaces to decorate furniture found a new life and the commission of these attractive table-tops also became popular among wealthy Irish and British tourists who were visiting Italy.

This example, one of a pair, was ordered by Joseph Leeson, later Earl of Milltown, in 1744, during his first visit to Florence. Apparently, Pietro Belloni took a long time to finish this work, which presumably he completed in 1748.

(National Gallery of Ireland: Essential Guide, 2008)
Label TextIn a triumph of illusion, the view of a port is set within a decorative cartouche. Often employed to imitate marble columns, scagliola is created using powdered plaster mixed with glue and pigment. This weighty panel was once part of a console table, now lost, which sat below a gilt mirror in the Grand Saloon at Russborough, Co. Wicklow. Don Pietro Belloni, a Benedictine monk, learnt the technique from Don Enrico Hugford, the leading master. Abbot Hugford perfected the technique at the monastery of Vallombrosa in Tuscany and his work was much prized by the Grand Tourists of the day.