Intarsia  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Intarsia is a form of wood inlaying that is similar to marquetry. The term is also used for a similar technique used with small, highly polished stones set in a marble matrix (see pietre dure).

Contents

History

The technique of intarsia inlays sections of wood (at times with contrasting ivory or bone, or mother-of-pearl) within the solid stone matrix of floors and walls or of table tops and other furniture; by contrast marquetry assembles a pattern out of veneers glued upon the carcase. It is thought that the word 'intarsia' is derived from the Latin word 'interserere' which means "to insert".

When Egypt came under Arab rule in the seventh century, indigenous arts of intarsia and wood inlay, which lent themselves to non-representational decors and tiling patterns, spread throughout the maghreb. The technique of intarsia was already perfected in Islamic North Africa before it was introduced into Christian Europe through Sicily and Andalusia. The art was further developed in Siena and by Sienese masters at the cathedral of Orvieto, where figurative intartsia made their first appearance, ca 1330 and continuing into the 15th century and in northern Italy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, spreading to German centers and introduced into London by Flemish craftsmen in the later sixteenth century. After about 1620, marquetry tended to supplant intarsia in urbane cabinet work.

Process

Intarsia is a woodworking technique that uses varied shapes, sizes, and species of wood fitted together to create a mosaic-like picture with an illusion of depth. Intarsia is created through the selection of different types of wood, using their natural grain pattern and color (but can involve the use of stains and dyes) to create variations in the pattern. After selecting the specific woods to be used within the pattern, each piece is then individually cut, shaped, and finished. Sometimes areas of the pattern are raised to create more depth. Once the individual pieces are complete, they are fitted together like a jig-saw puzzle and glued to wood backing which is sometimes cut to the outline shape of the image.

Marble intarsia (opere di commessi), called pietre dura in English for the semi-precious hardstones combined with colored marbles that are employed, is an intarsia of coloured stones inlaid in white or black marble. Early examples in Florence date from the mid fifteenth century and reached a peak of refinement and complexity in revetments of the Medici Chapel, produced under Medici patronage in the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, which was established by Ferdinando I de’ Medici. Later complex designs and refinement of the art developed in Naples circa the beginning of the 17th century. The floor of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is a particularly notable example of marble intarsia. Later this form of decoration became a feature of baroque interior design, particularly so in the Sicilian Baroque designs following the earthquake of 1693.

See also

Examples





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Intarsia" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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