I am starting to hate the person who cut the moulding (below) into that marble about 180 years ago. He was a clever bloody dick with too much time on his hands.
I also hate the antique dealer who sold the original item to my client, in the full knowledge that it was missing the largest piece of the moulding making the largest run of the crispest and deepest egg and dart I have ever seen in white, statuary marble, in a display of virtuosity which would put whoever composed 'The Flight of The Bumble Bee' to shame.
Before you start complimenting me on how clever I am etc., let me dispel your illusions by saying that the making of stuff like this involves nothing more than weeks of boring, repetitive and - ultimately - soul-destroying work which any madman could do with the right tools. This is a supreme example of why all stonemasons are alcoholic misanthropes with drug and marital problems.
If you embiggen (I love that word, created by a fellow blogger) the photo below, you will notice that the original carver - not content with just one row of starkly regimental 'dentil' mouldings cut into the unforgiving material - has placed secondary fillets of marble cubes deep in the negative recesses between the primary ones, and these are perfectly square and around half an inch cube - situated in a place where it is next to impossible to get a chisel in, let alone use it.
What makes him so fucking irritating is that he did all this without the use of any power tools other than a foot-driven treadle, and had no tungsten or diamond coated electronic gear to speed things up like I have. He probably did, however, have a child slave to hand to sharpen chisels constantly and shout at for tea etc. I cannot afford one of those.
And the most soul-destroying aspect of this little job? The sure knowledge that once I have finished and it is in situ, it will be utterly invisible to anyone over the height of 18 inches.
I know I have told you this story before, but not in the context of this prime example of how insane you have to be (or become) to be a stone carver.
I was working one Saturday in my town workshop, when an American tourist stood at the door, watching me knock bits off a block with repetitive strikes of a small mallet and chisel.
Normally, they would stand there for a few minutes with an admiring smile on their faces before saying something like, "I wouldn't know where to start," (see title) or "I wish I had the skill to do that."
This man waited for a break in the beats before saying, "My God - that must be SO boring!" Then he just walked away, obviously doubly glad of his office job back home.