A Brief History of Marquetry & Parquetry

Parquetry Lamp

Marquetry and Parquetry are both terms referring to inlay. Thinly sliced pieces of hand selected figured wood veneers are arranged on the surface of a piece of furniture to create a decorative effect, or a geometric pattern. If the pieces take a scrolling form, such as flowers or ribbons, the technique is known as marquetry. If a geometric pattern is produced then the technique is known as parquetry. Marquetry has always been considered the more difficult technique to achieve as curvilinear designs are more difficult to cut out.

The delicate inlay techniques of marquetry and parquetry in fine wood veneers originated in 16th century Antwerp and were soon popularized across Europe. The inspiration, judging by early designs, came from the pietra-dure (hard stone) inlays found in 16th century Florence and throughout Italy. Previously ‘Intarsia’, where designs were created from solid joined woods, was predominant in Italy.

Marquetry Table

The French designer André-Charles Boulle used not only timber veneer but tortoiseshell and brass to create increasingly complex and delicate designs, whilst in England Thomas Chippendale, John Linnell and John Channon worked with this intricate art form to create furniture whose detailed workmanship and quality is achievable only by very few cabinetmakers today.

Colorado Style Home Furnishings features both techniques from several furniture makers and explores this art’s full potential. Using fine burls, curved and straight grained timbers one can evoke modern and classical, formal or relaxed designs.

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