In Wood and Furniture Crafts


Intarsia, a precursor of marquetry inlay, flourished in Italy as early as the sixteenth century. As it developed further, different materials were incorporated into designs, such as mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell and ivory. In England, during the Commonwealth duration of the mid-17th century, furniture designs have been much simpler; it appears that evidently carved oak panels had been favoured over complex decoration.

Under Oliver Cromwell, furniture mirrored the usual feel of austerity experienced across Britain. Post-Cromwell, an interesting shift in cabinet-making occurred, as the pent-up demand for ornate designs and luxurious substances emerged, flourishing throughout the Baroque era. Expanding change with the New World brought distinguished species of timber such as ebony, kingwood, rosewood, and satinwood.

Charles II, on his return to England in 1660, brought with him a number of professional Huguenot and Dutch craftsmen who popularised marquetry in English furnishings design. In France, the undisputed master was once André-Charles Boulle, ebeniste du roi to King Louis XIV. Boulle’s Dutch contemporary, Jan van Mekeren, specialised in floral marquetry. Inspired with the aid of Dutch still-life paintings, his marquetry designs are a long way greater fluid in execution.

The class and sophistication of his forms mirrored the opulence and grandeur of the late 17th century, subsequently influencing the designs of English cabinet makers. The system concerned is time-consuming and complicated. Only expert craftsmen were in a position to create the most complex designs that characterise the technique. Initially patterns are drawn on card, and then finely and cautiously pricked onto the desired veneers, before being cut out to create the interlocking patterns.

Walnut was frequently used as the ground material, being a local and conveniently on hand wood, while contrasting coloured imported woods have been used sparingly to add a feel of sophistication to the universal aesthetic. While the most frequent type of furniture to function inlaid ornament had been cabinets, tables and chests of drawers, marquetry was once integrated into a diverse range of portions and can be discovered embellishing the surfaces of a huge range of furnishings and works of art. Made for the most elegant contributors of population, marquetry was mainly in vogue during the reign of William and Mary. Floral and foliate designs tended to dominate, with carnations, peonies and acanthus leaves featuring prominently.

In the 18th century more complicated and complex patterns developed as designers grew to become more innovative. ‘Seaweed’ or ‘arabasque’ marquetry, a tight design of swirling, frilled and scrolling foliage, was mainly popular at the commencing of the 18th century. Marquetry furniture enjoyed a revival in the nineteenth century, mainly throughout the Victorian period. The rich naturalistic arrangement of flowers, c-scrolls and swirling foliage produces a fluid and based aesthetic: directly attractive to the fairly decorative Victorian taste.

Forthcoming in our subsequent Fine Furniture & Works of Art auction is a beautiful choice of furnishings which illustrates the exceptional and sophistication of marquetry diagram in Europe.

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Marquetry is the method of making ornamental designs with a number of wood veneers of contrasting colours and grain patterns. Unlike parquetry, which depends on the use of timber to make geometric designs, marquetry utilises a extra figurative approach, growing often complex designs with flowers, foliage, birds, figures, and landscapes.

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