A Word About Veneer and Marquetry

Veneering dates back thousands of years and was prized by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.  Simply put, the craft of veneering involves the slicing of rare, expensive and beautiful woods into the thinnest of leaves and gluing this precious material onto a substructure of more common and less expensive wood.  It was a way of stretching the scarce and exotic as far as possible in making lovely and elegant furniture.

The related art of marquetry uses a palette of different wood veneers to create formal or naturalistic  patterns or pictures. The 17th and 18th centuries marked the zenith of marquetry, when the courts of England and France patronized this art form in furniture. From the seventeenth century right through to the end of the nineteenth century, tools improved, and techniques became increasingly swifter and more refined. By the end of the nineteenth century, veneer and  marquetry had become extremely popular and accessible forms of furniture decoration.

Piranesi has in its collection several pieces of veneered furniture adorned with marquetry designs.

Top of Small Table, Italy, 18thC

Semainier, France, circa 1880

Secretary, Italy, circa 1910

Close up of Italian Secretary

Center table, USA, circa 2010

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