The Wonder of Wood Conference Explores Decorative Marquetry and Inlay

  • January 23, 2022 20:10

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Marquetry panel of a table box, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, London, circa 1685. Courtesy of Burghley House, Lincolnshire.

The Wonder of Wood: Decorative Inlay and Marquetry in Europe and America, 1600–1900 will explore the history and artistry of inlay and marquetry in America and Europe. The conference will occur at both the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, April 26–28, 2022.

The Wonder of Wood will bring together 23 exceptional scholars—a creative mix of curators, academics, conservators, artists, and craftsmen drawn from museums and private practice in America and abroad. This unparalleled roster of conference speakers will include two of the world’s finest marqueters, Silas Kopf and Yannick Chastang. Never before has such a talented team come together in the United States to share their collective expertise with the public.

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In both inlay and marquetry, artisans apply small pieces of different species of wood to create pictures or patterns on furniture. The basic concept has a long and illustrious past. Both traditions existed in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. They were revived during the Renaissance and have flourished ever since.

Over the centuries, the complexity of the ornament has varied enormously, from simple bands of light and dark stringing that outline the drawers of a plain desk in the 1790s to breathtaking trompe l’oeil imagery on Dutch and French cabinets a century earlier. Focusing on the years from 1600 to 1900, The Wonder of Wood will consider an especially rich period in European and American furniture history, when craftsmen produced many of the grandest inlaid objects ever made.

“Nasturtiums,” sideboard buffet by Silas Kopf, 2006. Granadillo and various woods with brass, copper and shell. Philadelphia Museum of Art, gift of Larry and Mickey Magid, 2018. Photo courtesy Silas Kopf.

A comprehensive, beautifully illustrated volume, edited by Brock Jobe, professor emeritus at Winterthur; Alexandra Kirtley, the Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Steve Latta, craftsman, teacher, and historian of decorative inlay, will provide a lasting record of this groundbreaking conference.

Registration is open. Register online. Space is limited. Admission is $375 for the public, $300 for members of Winterthur or the PMA, and $225 for nonprofit employees. A virtual version of the conference will be made available two weeks after the live event for $250, and $200 for members of Winterthur or the PMA. Scholarships are available. 


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