From the middle of the 17th century onwards case furniture, which included chests of drawers, tables, chairs, dressers and cupboards, in fact anything functional, were becoming the focus of the cabinet makers’ art. Backs, legs and stretchers were being carved and scrolled and upholstery on chairs was becoming more extravagant.
Veneering during this period was also becoming very popular where exotic hard woods were being imported to brighten up plain oak furniture. To begin with small amounts of veneer would be used on oak carcasses, but this quickly led to the whole piece being extensively veneered. Borders in contrasting veneers were being laid at right angles to each other, called cross banding in the trade, and these could also be made into chevron and feather patterns.
With increasingly elaborate veneering came marquetry and parquetry decoration. Highly elaborate designs were constructed using intricately cut pieces of veneers which contrasted to create striking patterns on pieces of case furniture. Marquetry design was mainly floral or tightly scrolled arabesques known as sea-weed marquetry. Parquetry on the other hand was abstract and geometric, its most popular design being oyster-veneering where veneers were cross cut to emulate opened oysters. Lacquering and japanning copied from imported Chinese and Japanese cabinets often completed the quite stunning effects. The later part of the 17th century saw the arrival of William of Orange to the English throne plus Huguenot craftsmen expelled from France which heralded the golden age of English cabinet making.
Fine parquetry and marquetry furniture examples of period and revival antique furniture can be found through antique furniture dealerships in Lancashire, Cumbria and other parts of the UK.
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