Celebrating Marquetry

Marquetry is a labor intensive process that yields remarkably beautiful results.

Below, you will learn more about the history of marquetry, and see wonderful examples found here at Solvang Antiques.

American Victorian Ebonized Marquetry Table

Marquetry is the art of creating decorative designs and pictures by skillfully utilizing the grain and colors of thin veneers, or other materials such as shell.

English Portable Writing Desk With Japanese Fan Motif, circa 1900

Marquetry can be traced back to the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs which show inlays being used in the manufacture of caskets. These ancient artisans would carve out an area in wood and heat up animal bones and skin to create glue, which was then used the secure a corresponding piece of stone, metal, wood, or shell into place.

French Inlaid Dressing Table and Mirror, circa 1860

In the mid 16th century, innovations in spring-driven clocks brought about the fretsaw. This handheld tool allowed craftsmen to precisely cut pieces of inlay. The craftsmen glued pieces together into a sheet, which was then affixed onto a surface. The designs became much more intricate and complex. 

Marquetry schools sprung up in France, Germany and Holland between the 16th and 18th Centuries. Exquisite examples of marquetry furniture were being created for royalty.



Italian Satinwood Game Table With Floral Motif Inlay

In the 17th Century floral and scroll designs were becoming popular. Also, making its debut was parquetry, a more geometric style.

Eventually, marquetry made its way out of Europe and into America and beyond. There are still a few professional marquetarians today, but the most innovative work often comes from amateurs, as they are able to create more labor intensive, unique works of art. The primary materials used in marquetry today are natural wood veneers from a thousand different species of tree from around the world.

Some of the most beautiful marquetry you will find is in the cabinetry of antique cylinder music boxes.

Swiss Rosewood Cylinder Music Box With Matching Table

Brazilian Rosewood Music Box With Inlay

Music Box by Nicole Freres in Rosewood Marquetry

Orchestral Music Box in Rosewood With Floral Inlay

To see more antique furniture, click here. For more information about music boxes, click here.

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