Chest Of Drawers On Stand

Veneered with walnut and inlaid with marqueterie.

Date about 1630. Victoria and Albert Museum.

after, and when it is remembered that oak furniture, as we have seen, was being extensively produced at this period, it is difficult to understand the fashion for the sombre oak running concurrently with this gaudy inlay, other than on the hypothesis that the latter had to be imported from the other side of the Xorth Sea, and therefore was not available to the same degree. The inlay here, apart from its Dutch design, is also sand-burnt on the laurelled bandings surrounding the doors, which indicates a device which could hardly have been known to an English craftsman at this early date. There is a mechanical excellence in the cutting and laying of the veneers, and also a tradition, if only in the possession of the necessary designs, in tracings and prickings, which must render the nationality of this early marqueterie very suspect. Considering the close inter-association which existed between England and Holland at this and

Fig. 372. CHEST OF DRAWERS.

Veneered with walnut and inlaid with marqueterie.

c. 1700. Sir Leicester Harmsworth, Bart.

Fig. 372. CHEST OF DRAWERS.

Veneered with walnut and inlaid with marqueterie.

c. 1700. Sir Leicester Harmsworth, Bart.

subsequent periods, the question of nationality is not so serious as one would imagine, as we know that timber and veneers were freely imported from the Continent during the latter half of the seventeenth century, and numbers of Dutch woodworkers settled in this country, especially in East Anglia and the counties bounded by the Dover Straits or the estuary of the Thames. Canvey Island was, until recent years, almost entirely a Dutch colony, situated in the mouth of our chief river and within a few miles of the Metropolis.

This early marqueterie falls into sharp divisions. Fashions appear to have been short-lived, whether regulated by English patrons or by the craftsmen themselves. This stained and white ivory inlay* ceases abruptly, and is not repeated, even as occasional

Fig. 373. WALNUT TABLE.

Inlaid with floral marqueterie.

THE TOP OF THE TABLE, FIG. 373.

THE TOP OF THE TABLE, FIG. 373.

decoration, after about 1685. It was as if the " something new " of the later seventeenth century interdicted anything belonging to the expired fashion. Even in such examples as the convex or "cushion-moulded" mirror frames, such as Fig. 360, where one would imagine that stock inlay, especially that in panels, would have been used up, at a date considerably later than the vogue of the marqueterie itself, the fashion of the moment is usually rigidly followed.

The inlay of the early Orange period is generally in monotone, light wood in dark, and the design a coarse scrolling. Of this manner Fig. 361 is an example. It is to the marqueterie of this kind that the term " seaweed," if it have any meaning at all,—should be applied. Its strong Dutch character will be remarked in the illustration, and the use of pale walnut for the ground veneer serves to emphasise this. The counterpart to this coarse scrolled marqueterie can be found in the early long cases, containing clocks by makers of lesser renown. It is doubtful if the important clockmakers, with the exception, perhaps, of Dan Ouare, placed their clocks in marqueterie cases at all.

Fig. 375. WALNUT BUREAU ON STAND.

Inlaid with Arabesque marqueterie.

Fig. 375. WALNUT BUREAU ON STAND.

Inlaid with Arabesque marqueterie.

To the same period as this coarse marqueterie belongs the custom of veneering with oyster-pieces in radiating patterns, as in Fig. 362. There is little to be gleaned from the general form of many7 of these cabinets 011 spiral-leg stands with shaped swept stretchers. They follow, usually, a set pattern, of a classical cornice surmounting a cushion-moulded frieze (usually containing a drawer opening on the sides), with a frieze-moulding of a bead and fillet. Below this are two doors (at a later stage the whole front is one panel which is hinged at the bottom and falls forward to act as a writing bed), and behind is a collection of drawers, veneered and inlaid to correspond, and a small central cupboard with door. This pattern persists from about 1675 to nearly 1700, with little or no modification, and it is the character of the inlay only which enables the

Fig. 376. WALNUT TABLE.

Inlaid with marqueterie in ground of holly, banded with walnut oyster-piece«.

Date about 1695. Col. H. H. Mulliner.

Fig. 376. WALNUT TABLE.

Inlaid with marqueterie in ground of holly, banded with walnut oyster-piece«.

Date about 1695. Col. H. H. Mulliner.

Fig. 377

THE TOP OF THE TABLE, FIG. 376.

Fig. 377

THE TOP OF THE TABLE, FIG. 376.

later to be distinguished from the earlier examples. It will be noticed that in Fig. 362 an ingenious use is made of the sap-rings of the oyster-pieces, in the decorative effect of the entire panel. It would almost appear that the " eye " of the peacock's feather had inspired this elaborate veneering.

The next phase of English marqueterie appears to have been confined to the short reign of James II. Fig. 363 may be given as the type. There is a progression, here, from the earlier centred oval, towards the later " all-over" inlay, although the oval does not appreciably decline in favour until the end of the seventeenth century, but in the later years is more frequently used without marqueterie ; oyster-pieces, herring-bone stringing or veneers of exceptional figure or burr being substituted. So rapidll does this taste for marqueterie decline, in certain districts,- probably due to the cost of the work itself placing it beyond the means of any but the wealthy,—that a separate classification of English furniture of this period, that of the plain walnut of William and Mary, might

Fig. 378. CHINA CABINET.

Veneered with oyster-pieces of walnut and laburnum, and inlaid with marqueterie.

Date about 1695. Viscount Rothermere.

Fig. 379.

ANOTHER VIEW OF THE CHINA CABINET, FIG. 378.

The name " Samuel Bennett " is inlaid pn the inside of this door and the address " Monmouth Square "

on the other.

be attempted, as this walnut furniture of William III differs in many important details, from that of the succeeding reign.

The broad treatment of marqueterie, with centre panels as in Fig. 363, surrounded by others in a wide framing, the inlay sometimes in yellow wood (sycamore or holly), but more often in various colours, was the fashionable manner of 1690 5, and was nearly always used for pieces of important size, such as this cabinet, or for large cupboard presses, of the kind to be found at Burghley and elsewhere. It is with this phase that the characteristic English marqueterie begins, and this statement can be made with considerable confidence, as, apart from the marked difference in massing and general design which these large pieces present (which might pave been simply the result

Fig. 380, TABLE

Veneered with walnut and inlaid with marqueterie. Top 3 ft. 3 ins. by z ft. 2 ins.

Fig. 380, TABLE

Veneered with walnut and inlaid with marqueterie. Top 3 ft. 3 ins. by z ft. 2 ins.

of a new taste in the importation of pieces) it is with this work that the English marqueterie cutter begins to show his 'prentice hand, in such technical details as the cutting (and designing) of panels in the one piece, the cutting of marqueterie and ground separately (resulting in an absence of the mechanical accuracy so noticeable in the earlier work), and the laying of veneers with hot glue, with such consequences as the splitting and warping referred to at an earlier stage of this chapter.

The earlier form of smaller cabinet with cushion-moulded frieze still persisted even into the first years of the eighteenth century, but in the marqueterie pieces there is a marked change in the use of floral forms, the carnation being a favourite motive. A comparison of Fig. 364 with Fig. 359 will show the difference in the character of this later inlay more clearly than it can be pointed out here. The solid base of Fig. 364

is a subsequent addition, the usual finish of these later cabinets being still a stretchering as in Fig. 359, but of more intricate shaping. These cabinets on spiral-leg stands have nearly always three, in rare instances, four, balusters on the front and only two at the back. That this may have been a source of weakness, especially with a heavy cabinet, such as Fig. 363, is probable, and may account for the presence of the two plain turned legs in that example® not connected to the stretcher, being added at a later date.

Fig. 365 is a good specimen of all-over marqueterie of about 1690, the inlay of box, holly, plane, king and rosewood, slightly shaded, and of fine quality, both from the point of design or technical execution. Fig. 366 shows the cabinet open. Behind the central door are mirrors,.

Fig. 381. CABINET ON STAND.

Inlaid with marqueterie.

Fig. 381. CABINET ON STAND.

Inlaid with marqueterie.

THE INTERIOR OF THE CABINET, FIG. 381.

THE INTERIOR OF THE CABINET, FIG. 381.

intended to give an effect of depth and perspective when the door is opened. This device is more usual in lacquer cabinets than in marqueterie, and was copied from the ebony pieces of Italian make which found their way to England at this date. The twisted legs have gilded caps and bases, and the stretcher is unusually thick. Cabinets of this kind appear to have been the production of East Anglia almost exclusively (in fact, even at the present day they are rarely found in the Midlands or the West), and considering the numbers of Dutch merchants and others who had settled in Xorfolk and Suffolk at this date, especially in Norwich, Ipswich and Bury St. Edmunds, the strong Dutch character which many of these pieces exhibit can be easily understood.

Fashions in marqueterie of the last decade of the seventeenth century do not appear to be confined so much to periods as to localities, that is, if we are not to assume the entire production of these expensive pieces to have been chaotic. It would, perhaps, be nearer to the truth to say that the distinction was even finer than one of districts, and that the strong similarity between certain pieces, in the designing of the inlay, is due, very often, to one man or one workshop. It is unlikely that master patterns would be duplicated, or that prickings from these patterns would be sold or given away to other makers. The panels in the front of Fig. 367 and the top, shown in Fig. 368,

offer an interesting instance of this duplication. The four tiers of drawers being graduated in depth, four distinct patterns must have been required for the drawer fronts alone, the frieze of the stand being a duplicate of the top stage. This inlay of birds is a very familiar one, being found in the marqueterie furniture of this period too frequently to be merely a whim of a popular fashion. The panels in these pieces are not copies ; they are duplicates, cut from the same pattern. Mr. Percy Wacquoid illustrates two examples, in Fig. 40 and Plate IV of " The Age of Walmti," where the patterns are identical, the one being the reversed counterpart of the other. P>oth are very similar to, although not exactly the same in design, as Fig. 367. Even if this duplication, in original and counterpart (which is by no means exceptional in this bird-marqueterie) were not sufficient to establish a common source for both, there is the evidence of the woods themselves, which settles, finally-, that in some examples which have been carefully examined, the grain of the counterpart ground exactly matches the original inlay, proving beyond question

OAK BUREAU.

Veneered with holly and inlaid with fine scroll marqueterie.

Date about 1690-5. Viscount Rothermere.

OAK BUREAU.

Veneered with holly and inlaid with fine scroll marqueterie.

Date about 1690-5. Viscount Rothermere.

not only that the two must have been made in the same shop and by the same man, but they must both have been cut at the one time.

There are numerous evidences of this common origin to be found in English furniture, at all periods from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, but in no instance, other than in this inlay of the Orange period, can the fact be stated so irrefutably.

In this chest, Fig. 367, the inlay is in two woods, a rich yellow and a reddish brown, in a figured walnut ground. The legs have square caps of almond wood, and the lower part of the shafts is veneered with a rich yellow wood cut to simulate the coursing of brickwork ; an exceptional and very charming detail.

During the years from 1675 to 1695 the favourite pattern of small table was one on four twisted legs with bun-feet, tied by a serpentine stretcher, centred in an oval or a circle. The tops are usually made from straight pine, in narrow sections, edged with cross-grained walnut, moulded to a thumb section. Every variety of marqueterie, from the ivory jessamine flowers and leaves to the finely scrolled, can be found in these

THE BUREAU, FIG. 383, SHOWN OPEN.

Ill-2 O 281

THE BUREAU, FIG. 383, SHOWN OPEN.

Ill-2 O 281

tables. Frequently the back is inlaid to correspond with the front, showing that they were made to stand away from a wall. Fig. 369 is an example of about 1675-80,. with marqueterie of choice design, especially in the laurelled bandings, and with the central oval of the top not connected to the outer banding with ribs, as in Fig. 368. Fig. 371 is one of the ornate chests on stretchered stands with shaft-turned legs, similar in character to Fig. 369, and of about the same date. It is only towards the end of the century when these inlaid chests begin again to be made in the older fashion, without stands. They vary considerably in quality, the appeal being, evidently, to a wider

Fig. 385. WALNUT VENEERED TABLE.

Inlaid with scroll-marqueterie of dark wood in panelled grounds of holly.

Fig. 385. WALNUT VENEERED TABLE.

Inlaid with scroll-marqueterie of dark wood in panelled grounds of holly.

THE TOP OF THE TABLE. FIG. 385,

Walnut scroll marqueterie in panels of holly inlaid in grounds of walnut oyster-pieces.

THE TOP OF THE TABLE. FIG. 385,

Walnut scroll marqueterie in panels of holly inlaid in grounds of walnut oyster-pieces.

market than before. Fig. 372 is one of these, veneered with simple marqueterie in panels, and with the ornamental brass escutcheons of the time.

As a variation from the more usual spiral-turning, tables and cabinets began to be made, after about 1680, with legs in thl form of an S or a double-C. These legs were usually inlaid on the outer edges, more rarely on the sides also. Figs. 373 and 374 show one of these tables, very fine 111 design, but with the marqueterie cut in a separate operation from its ground, and with the consequent tendency to slight inaccuracy which distinguishes the cutting of England from that of Holland. The table was formerly at Parham Park, the Sussex seat of Lord Zouche of Haryngworth. The veneers, especially those of the top, have bleached with the action of sunlight.

From the same collection, which, although not extensive, is remarkably rich in fine examples, comes also the charming desk, illustrated here in Fig. 375. The marqueterie is a closely designed intricate pattern of arabesques in light and dark •woods, cut with great exactness, and in quarters, pieced together and banded with

laurelled borders. Numbers of these desks, with sloping hinged tops supported on pin-hinged pull-out legs, were made during the latter years of the reign of William III, but they are exceedingly rare with marqueterie inlay. They* were superseded, shortly before 1700, by the bureau with drawers below, of the kind shown in Fig. 383. The interiors of these bureaux and desks are nearly always as elaborate as the exterior surfaces, finely ornamented with marqueterie everywhere. They were pieces, evidently, only made for important patrons.

A much more delicate form of arabesque inlay, of black wood in holly, can be seen in the exceptionally* fine table, Figs. 376 and 377. This represents in design and execution, the high-watermark of English marqueterie and shows to what perfection the art had been brought in England, within a narrow period of less than twenty years. It is not only the progression in point of technical excellence which is so

How To Sell Furniture

How To Sell Furniture

Types Of Furniture To Sell. There are many types of products you can sell. You just need to determine who your target market is and what specific item they want. Or you could sell a couple different ones in a package deal.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment