Inlay covers a range of techniques in sculpture and the decorative arts for inserting pieces of contrasting, often coloured materials into depressions in a base object to form ornament or pictures that normally are flush with the matrix.A great range of materials have been used both for the base or matrix and for the inlays inserted into it. Inlay is commonly used in the production of decorative furniture, where pieces of coloured wood, precious metals or even diamonds are inserted into the surface of the carcass using various matrices including clearcoats and varnishes. Lutherie inlays are frequently used as decoration and marking on musical instruments, particularly the smaller strings.
Perhaps the most famous example of furniture inlay is that of Andre-Charles Boulle (11 November 1642 – 28 February 1732) which is known as Boulle Work and evolved in part from inlay produced in Italy during the late 15th century at the Studiolo for Federico da Montefeltro in his Ducal Palace at Urbino, in which trompe-l'œil shelving seems to carry books, papers, curios and mathematical instruments, in eye-deceiving perspective. The similar private study made for him at Gubbio is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In a wood matrix, inlays commonly use wood veneers, but other materials like shells, mother-of-pearl, horn or ivory may also be used. Pietre dure, or coloured stones inlaid in white or black marbles, and inlays of precious metals in a base metal matrix are other forms of inlay. Master craftsmen who make custom knives continue a tradition of ancient techniques of inlaying precious metals; additionally, many new techniques which use contemporary tools have also been developed and utilized as well by artisans.
Intarsia inlay in wood furniture differs from marquetry, a similar technique that largely replaced it in high-style European furniture during the 17th century,in that marquetry is an assembly of veneers applied over the entire surface of an object, whereas inlay consists of small pieces inserted on the bed of cut spaces in the base material, of which most remains visible.
The history of inlay is very old but it is still evolving alongside new technologies and new materials being discovered today. The technique of metal in metal inlay was sophisticated and accomplished in ancient China as shown in examples of vessels decorated with precious metals including this ding vessel (pictured) with gold and silver inlay from the Warring States period (403-221 BC).
The French cabinet maker Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) specialised in furniture using inlays or metal and either wood or tortoiseshell together, the latter acting as the background. This type of inlay is known as "Boulle Work".
After learning the skill of smithing from the Navaho in 1872, the Zuni silversmiths cut small chips from crystals and gemstones, pearl shell and coral, to make inlay designs in a base of silver.
In 1990, Vivienne Westwood was inspired by Boulle Work, the inlay of precious metals into or onto wood to create a collection with inlay in the manner of André-Charles Boulle.[ citation needed ]
In 2016, a subsidiary company of Jean-Raymond Boulle discovered and has filed a patentfor a new type of diamond inlay in keeping with Boulle Work, subsequently produced by AkzoNobel for application on cars, planes and yachts.
The Inlaid Brass Ewer, signed by ʿAli ibn ʿAbdallah al-ʿAlawi, currently sits at the Museum of Islamic Art at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. This 35 centimeter high jug can be dated back to the 13th century, during the Ayyubid dynasty, from about 1251-1275. It was produced in Mosul, in northern Iraq, a place that was known for its beautiful metalwork. The Inlaid Brass Ewer was used along with a basin, also signed by ʿAli ibn ʿAbdallah al-ʿAlawi, and both were most likely owned by a member of the higher class to wash their hands before dining at court. This ewer, along with a group of other inlaid brasses, can be associated with Mosul because of the abundance of artist signatures.
Technical Evaluation: The workshops of Mosul were known to have the finest bronzes, including ewers, basins, candlesticks, and others. These bronzes were inlaid with silver and gold, and were decorated with intricate designs and inscriptions. While the technique of metalworking originated in Persia, the trade routes in Mosul shaped it. The earliest use of metalworking was with copper, but with the addition of zinc, copper became brass. In Islamic areas, brass was used to make large braziers and dishes, but soon became proficient in creating ewers, basins, and other bronzes. These would then be decorated with gold and silver through the technique of inlaying. The process of inlaying a precious metal on top of a less precious one is evident on most of the bronzes that came from Mosul. A group of craftsman centered in Mosul created the Mosul school, which created an improved way of inlaying metals. This technique would bypass the earlier method of inlaying, especially when it came to silver. Strips of silver and gold were placed on undercut bronze and brass pieces in a way that when finished would show no irregularity. This technique was later brought to other cities, including Damascus. The technique of Damascene, named after the city of Damascus, involved the metal being inlaid to be softer than the substrate metal; the look was created by hammering the metal into an undercut hard metal. By hammering in strips of gold and silver, the brass ewers had predetermined patterns that were decorated. The Inlaid Brass Ewer's patterns and inscriptions include thrones, riders, and planets with their zodiac signs, and are inlaid with silver and gold. The motifs and metal choices are very common for Mosul metalwork.
The natives of Kerma (c.2500 BCE to c.1500 BCE) developed techniques for architectural inlays and glazed quartzite.Pietra dura is the usual term in Europe for detailed inlays in contrasting colours of stones, including many semi-precious types; parchin kari is an Indian term. Pietra dura developed from the Roman Opus sectile, which was typically used on a larger scale, especially in floors. Cosmatesque work on walls and floors, and smaller objects, was a medieval intermediate stage, continuing ancient opus alexandrinum.
Inlaid artefacts have come down to us from the Ancient Mayan civilisation, among them, jade, mother of pearl and onyx inlaid into stone during the era that arts reached a peak during the seven centuries from 200 to 900 AD.
Vivienne Westwood created her Portrait Collection based on the furniture of Andre Charles Boulle.
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Furniture refers to movable objects intended to support various human activities such as seating, eating (tables), and sleeping. Furniture is also used to hold objects at a convenient height for work, or to store things. Furniture can be a product of design and is considered a form of decorative art. In addition to furniture's functional role, it can serve a symbolic or religious purpose. It can be made from many materials, including metal, plastic, and wood. Furniture can be made using a variety of woodworking joints which often reflect the local culture.
Marquetry is the art and craft 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, veneerable surfaces or to freestanding pictorial panels appreciated in their own right.
Jean-François Oeben, or Johann Franz Oeben was a German ébéniste (cabinetmaker) whose career was spent in Paris. He was the maternal grandfather of the painter Eugène Delacroix.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, also known simply as the Gulbenkian Museum, is a major encyclopedic art museum in Lisbon, Portugal, in the civil parish of Avenidas Novas. As part of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, one of the wealthiest foundations in the world, the Gulbenkian Museum houses one of the largest private collections of art in the world. It encompasses the art of the world from antiquity forward, and was the private collection of a single man, oil magnate Calouste Gulbenkian.
Pietra dura or pietre dure[ˈpjɛːtre ˈduːre], called parchin kari or parchinkari in the Indian Subcontinent, is a term for the inlay technique of using cut and fitted, highly polished colored stones to create images. It is considered a decorative art. The stonework, after the work is assembled loosely, is glued stone-by-stone to a substrate after having previously been "sliced and cut in different shape sections; and then assembled together so precisely that the contact between each section was practically invisible". Stability was achieved by grooving the undersides of the stones so that they interlocked, rather like a jigsaw puzzle, with everything held tautly in place by an encircling 'frame'. Many different colored stones, particularly marbles, were used, along with semiprecious, and even precious stones. It first appeared in Rome in the 16th century, reaching its full maturity in Florence. Pietra dura items are generally crafted on green, white or black marble base stones. Typically, the resulting panel is completely flat, but some examples where the image is in low relief were made, taking the work more into the area of hardstone carving.
A tea caddy is a box, jar, canister, or other receptacle used to store tea. When first introduced to Europe from Asia, tea was extremely expensive, and kept under lock and key. The containers used were often expensive and decorative, to fit in with the rest of a drawing-room or other reception room. Hot water was carried up from the kitchen, and the tea made by the mistress of the house, or under her supervision.
Intarsia is a form of wood inlaying that is similar to marquetry. The start of the practice dates from before the seventh century AD.
André-Charles Boulle, le joailler du meuble, became the most famous French cabinetmaker and the preeminent artist in the field of marquetry, also known as "inlay". Boulle was "the most remarkable of all French cabinetmakers". Jean-Baptiste Colbert recommended him to Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King", as "the most skilled craftsman in his profession". Over the centuries since his death, his name and that of his family has become associated with the art he perfected, the inlay of tortoiseshell, brass and pewter into ebony. It has become known as Boulle Work, and the École Boulle, a college of fine arts and crafts and applied arts in Paris, continues today to bear testimony to his enduring art, the art of inlay.
Khātam is an ancient Persian technique of inlaying. It is a version of marquetry where art forms are made by decorating the surface of wooden articles with delicate pieces of wood, bone and metal precisely-cut intricate geometric patterns. Khatam-kari (خاتمکاری) or khatam-bandi (خاتمبندی) refers to the art of crafting a khatam. Common materials used in the construction of inlaid articles are gold, silver, brass, aluminum and twisted wire.
Tortoiseshell or tortoise shell is a material produced from the shells of the larger species of tortoise and turtle, mainly the hawksbill sea turtle, which is a critically endangered species according to the IUCN Red List largely because of its exploitation for this trade. The large size, fine colour and unusual form of the hawksbill's scutes make it especially suitable. The distinctive patterning is referred to in names such as the tortoiseshell cat, several breeds of guinea pig, and the common names of several species of the butterfly genera Nymphalis and Aglais, and some other uses.
Opus sectile is an art technique popularized in the ancient and medieval Roman world where materials were cut and inlaid into walls and floors to make a picture or pattern. Common materials were marble, mother of pearl, and glass. The materials were cut in thin pieces, polished, then trimmed further according to a chosen pattern. Unlike tessellated mosaic techniques, where the placement of very small uniformly sized pieces forms a picture, opus sectile pieces are much larger and can be shaped to define large parts of the design.
Gilles-Marie Oppenordt was a celebrated French designer at the Bâtiments du Roi, the French royal works, and one of the initiators of the Rocaille and Rococo styles, nicknamed "the French Borromini". He specialized in interior architecture and decoration, though he has been connected with the furniture of Charles Cressent. His surname has also been spelled Oppenord and Oppenort.
Ébéniste is a loanword for a cabinet-maker, particularly one who works in ebony.
The École Boulle is a college of fine arts and crafts and applied arts in Paris, France.
Pierre Golle was an influential Parisian ébéniste, of Dutch extraction.
Hardstone carving is a general term in art history and archaeology for the artistic carving of predominantly semi-precious stones, such as jade, rock crystal, agate, onyx, jasper, serpentinite, or carnelian, and for an object made in this way. Normally the objects are small, and the category overlaps with both jewellery and sculpture. Hardstone carving is sometimes referred to by the Italian term pietre dure; however, pietra dura is the common term used for stone inlay work, which causes some confusion.
Boulle work is a type of rich marquetry process or inlay perfected by the French cabinetmaker André Charles Boulle (11 November 1642 – 28 February 1732). It involves veneering furniture with tortoiseshell inlaid primarily with brass and pewter in elaborate designs often incorporating arabesques.
The furniture of the Louis XV period (1715-1774) is characterized by curved forms, lightness, comfort and asymmetry; it replaced the more formal, boxlike and massive furniture of the Style Louis XIV. It employed marquetry, using inlays of exotic woods of different colors, as well as ivory and mother of pearl.
Louis XIV furniture was massive and lavishly covered with sculpture and ornament of gilded bronze in the earlier part of the personal rule of King Louis XIV of France (1660–1690). After about 1690, thanks in large part to the furniture designer André Charles Boulle, a more original and delicate style appeared, sometimes known as Boulle Work. It was based on the use of marquetry, the inlay of piece of ebony and other rare woods, a technique first used in Florence in the 15th century, which was refined and developed by Boulle and others working for the King. Furniture was inlaid with thin plaques of ebony, copper, mother of pearl, and exotic woods of different colors in elaborate designs.
During the thirteenth century, Mosul, Iraq became home to a school of luxury metalwork which rose to international renown. Artifacts classified as Mosul are some of the most intricately designed and revered pieces of the Middle Ages.