Under Piero de' Medici (1416–1469) and his son Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449–1492), pietre dure
underwent a spectacular revival as part of the broad political propaganda of these Florentine art patrons, who wished to transport their fame beyond their territories. Various grand dukes who were as passionate as the Medici about this ancient mosaic technique provided generous support and personal commitment to the manifattura
, or grand-ducal workshop, enabling this evolution aimed at the supremacy of the "Florentine mosaic." Established in 1588 as the Galleria dei Lavori, this workshop was a formalized artistic enterprise under the auspices of courtly artistic patronage. Following the progressive papal Roman model, Ferdinand I de' Medici (r. 1587–1609), the Galleria's founding father, appreciated the seemingly limitless pietre dure
color variations and sophisticated designs. The first grand duke, Cosimo I de' Medici (r. 1537–74), and his son Francesco (r. 1574–87) reserved a special place for le belle pietre
, as it was called by the Dominican monk Agostino del Riccio, in their boundless passion for the arts.
After 1600 the naturalistic themes that first appeared in the sixteenth century prevailed over other subjects. Jacopo Ligozzi (d. 1627), a naturalist and a fascinating draftsman, dominated the field of Florentine mosaic. In Florence, the colors, shapes, and various shades within even a single piece of hardstone were imaginatively exploited to define images, a development that clearly sets Medici Florence apart from papal Rome. The utilization of the natural changing of colors within one stone to create illusionistic effects was highly influenced by Prague landscape compositions of the famous Castrucci family of about 1600 and dominated Florentine mosaics for the next two hundred years. Thus the ground was prepared for the masterpieces created by the Galleria under the leadership of the brilliant artist Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652–1725) and the sculptor Massimo Soldani-Benzi (1656–1740).