CORNIOLE, Giovanni delle
(b. ca. 1470, Pisa, d. ca. 1516, Pisa)
Giovanni delle Corniole (Giovanni delle Opere) was an Italian lapidary. A lapidary (the word means "concerned with stones") is an artisan who forms stone, mineral, gemstones, and other suitably durable materials (amber, shell, jet, pearl, copal, coral, horn and bone, glass and other synthetics) into decorative items (e.g. cameos, cabochons, and faceted designs).
Corniole was perhaps the most significant Renaissance cutter of precious gemstones during the late 15th century. He studied his craft in Florence, by emulating the detailed gemstone engravings of the Medici family's 'Grand Ducal' art collections. He was called Giovanni delle Corniole for his famed ability in cutting cornelian stone. His activity is documented in Florence in 1498 when he was trained at the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent. When Lorenzo died, Giovanni was barely twenty years old, but he was already capable of engraving the small cornelian with the beautiful, sharply distinct Portrait of Lorenzo. His unquestioned skill in the difficult practice of engraving cornelian is demonstrated in the famous oval portrait of Girolamo Savonarola.