Four years ago, on a night wander through the Saint Germaine area of Paris, I came upon the most spectacular gallery. Illuminated in the window were what appeared to be tiny, beautiful paintings of seascapes and landscapes. Closer inspection revealed they were made of rock, not canvas, and in fact they were not painted at all. But how were they made? I was captivated. I was also leaving town, and they were closed. Foolishly, I did not write down the name or address, but they stuck with me.
So last week, after meandered for hours in Saint Germaine, I stumbled (purposefully this time) upon the same spot––Galerie Claude Boulle! And they were open! And Claude was there! Turns out, he is a geologist, and he showed me pictures of his digs in Tuscany and Bristol, and, in broken English, explained to me that the Paesine––or “tiny landscape”––is made from a slice of polished marble. Over the course of thousands of years magnesium and iron oxides trickled through Eocene limestone to create this painted effect. Sigh.