20th Century Alabaster Parrot
An early 20th century carved alabaster parrot, naturalistically modelled perched upon a rock and having glass eyes inset.
Alabaster is a soft stone often used for carving. It is generally white or delicately shaded and translucent. The use of alabaster to create decorative objects and lamps with ornamental carving dates back to early civilisation – in the 3rd century BC the Etruscans used the alabaster of Tuscany to produce funeral urns, possibly taught by Greek artists.
In Europe, the centre of the alabaster trade has traditionally been Florence, Italy. Tuscan alabaster occurs in masses embedded in limestone and it is worked largely by means of underground galleries, in the district of Volterra. Several varieties are recognised: veined, spotted, clouded, and others. The finest kind, obtained principally from Castellina, is sent to Florence for figurative sculpture, while the common kinds are carved locally, into vases, lights, and various ornamental objects.