Marquetry is the art of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. The technique may be applied to case furniture or even seat furniture, to decorative small objects with smooth surfaces or to freestanding pictorial panels appreciated in their own right.
The veneers used are primarily woods, but may include bone, ivory, turtle-shell, mother-of-pearl, pewter, brass or fine metals
Many exotic woods as well as common European varieties can be employed, from the near-white of boxwood to the near-black of ebony, with veneers that retain stains well, like sycamore, dyed to provide colours not found in nature.
The simplest kind of marquetry uses only two sheets of veneer, which are temporarily glued together and cut with a fine saw, producing two contrasting panels of identical design
Finishing the piece will require fine abrasive paper always backed by a sanding block. Either ordinary varnish, special varnishes, modern polyurethane -oil or water based- good waxes and even the technique of french polish are different methods used to seal and finish the piece.
Collinson & Lock was established in the 1860s by F.G. Collinson and G.J. Lock, who worked for Jackson & Graham, a firm famous for its machine-made marquetry furniture. They were one of the foremost producers of Aesthetic and Art Nouveau furniture in London. A large collection of their work is on display at the V & A museum, including an antique cabinet shown at the 1871 London International Exhibition.
Collinson & Lock also produced some outstanding international exhibition pieces. An ebonised antique cabinet, shown at the London International Exhibition in 1871, was purchased for the V & A museum in the same year, other versions being shown in Vienna and America. At the 1878 Paris Exposition, they exhibited a number of Anglo-Japanese pieces by E.W Godwin, their most important designer, leading to international recognition.
The pole screen began to appear in the 18th century. It is a small screen placed on a vertical pole which is mounted on a tripod; placed between a lit fire and an occupant of the room, the screen can be adjusted up or down to shield the person’s face from the heat. The screen might be rectangular or a more decorous shape, and is decorated perhaps with embroidery, lacquer or paint.
Art deco began in Europe, particularly Paris, in the early years of the 20th century, but didn’t really take hold until after World War I. It reigned until the outbreak of World War II.
It was not just for the elite. By the 1930s, mass production meant that everyone could live in the deco style. Travel became popular. African safaris were all the rage and animal skins, ivory, mother of pearl, and tortoiseshell began to appear in the home. After Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered, Egyptian pyramids and sphinxes adorned everything.
Art nouveau – deco kept the nature motifs of its predecessor but discarded its flowing organic shapes and pastels for bolder materials and colours such as chrome and black
cubism -painters such as Picasso were experimenting with space, angles and geometry
early Hollywood – the glamorous world of the silver screen filtered through to design using shiny fabrics, subdued lighting, and mirrors. Cocktail cabinets and smoking paraphernalia became highly fashionable
The Jacobean era refers to a period in English and Scottish history that coincides with the reign of King James I (1603-1625). The Jacobean era succeeds the Elizabethan era and precedes the Caroline era, and specifically denotes a style of architecture, visual arts, decorative arts, and literature that is predominant of that period.
The word “Jacobean” is derived from the Hebrew name Jacob, which is the original form of the English name James.
The fine arts were dominated by foreign talent during the Jacobean era, as was true of the Tudor and Stuart periods in general
The ‘Brynmawr Experiment’ was an attempt by the Quakers to relieve the mass unemployment in the town of Brynmawr, south Wales in the early 1920s. They set up a small furniture-making enterprise that led to a major chapter in the social and artistic history of Wales.
The venture started in 1929, employing twelve local untrained men and later took on boys trained straight from school. Support came mainly from other successful Quaker companies – the first order was for 400 chairs for a Quaker school in York. Each chair cost £1 each (equivalent to £41 or today). New equipment and machinery was bought with the profits
The success of Brynmawr furniture was mainly due to the designer, Paul Matt. He had served his apprenticeship under his father, a skilled designer and cabinet-maker in London.
Paul Matt designed furniture that was simple to construct, taking into consideration that the workers were initially all unskilled. The main timber used was imported oak, finished with a coat of clear wax which gave the furniture an overall simple and minimal appearance, in line with the Quaker philosophy.
Glossy catalogues and promotional leaflets emphasised the high quality and design of the products whilst providing sustainable employment for the local community. These ideals appealed to the middle and professional classes of the 1930s and the company made the furniture affordable to such professions.
Henry Samuel, the Oxford Street based dealer in works of art (fl.1881 – 1913) regularly name-stamped his stock and seems to have specialised in copies of high quality copies of 18th century furniture, as well as in period furniture. See C.Gilbert,Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture, 1700 – 1840, Leeds, 1996, p.395, pl.780 for an 18th century octagonal partners desk, a similar late 19th century copy of this desk bearing the stamp of H.Samuel was sold Christie’s, London, 21 November, 2006, lot 457. Other pieces bearing the H.Samuel stamp include a bookcase in the manner of George Brookshaw, sold Christie’s London, 6 March 2008, lot 104 and a George I leather covered chest on stand, sold Sotheby’s London, 3 May 2003, lot 13.
S & H Jewell were cabinet makers based in the Holborn area of London and were recorded as quality cabinet-makers from 1830- 1840, but as late as 1894 a billhead, stating that the firm was founded in 1830, was recorded for furniture supplied by the firm for Standen House, East Grinstead, Sussex.
Walker & Hall
1845-1963, silversmith, electroplater, cutler, Sheffield
Walker & Hall were Manufacturers of gold and sterling silver goods, stainless steel, Britannia metal, cutlery and electro-plate. They were established in Sheffield in 1845 by George Walker. Between 1848 and 1853 the company was known as Walker, Coulson & Hall until they became simply Walker & Hall in 1853. In 1920 they became a limited company. They had premises at Howard Street, Sheffield and showrooms throughout the country. In 1963 they joined with Mappin & Webb and Elkington & Co to form British Silverware Limited.
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Shapland and Petter produced a wide range of furniture in the Arts and Crafts style designed to appeal to the growing market of middle class consumers who wanted tasteful homes and modern artistic furniture in the mid 1890’s to 1900.
The design and decoration of their furniture followed the popular designers of the time such as M.H Baille Scott and C.F.A Voysey who continued to develop the arts and crafts style previously established by William Morris.
Shapland and Petter were influenced by designers such as Bruce Talbert, J.P Seddon and Charles Eastlake who designed a lot of furniture for the Lancashire cabinet makers Gillows in the 1870’s. Some of the features relevant to their designs were as follows
1. Straight lines, long strap hinges and ring handles
2. Applied enamel plaques and painted panels
3. Revealed construction showing dove tails and tenons
4. Cut through work, piercing and repeated rows of spindles
5. Inset decorative panels and inscribed quotations or motto’s, many of the motto’s and quotations taken from relevant writers of the period and poets, such as “Reading maketh a full man”, “welcome ever smiles” and “words are like leaves and were they most abound much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found”.