Friday, 18 May 2018

I Have Seen Examples of Intarsia Before,

but none as complex as these, 

 the term Intarsia means the the fitting together of pieces of intricately cut wood or other materials to make often complex images, the craft gained most of it’s popularity in the Renaissance, 

one of the great masters of intarsia appears in this black and white photograph from 1502, it is a self portarte by Antonio Barili, one of the great masters of the art, made with pear, beech, walnut, maple and palisander woods, once held at the Museum of Art and Industry in Vienna, it was sadly destroyed during World War II,

 despite the obvious talent of the intarsiatori, the Florentine polymath Giorgio Vasari — considered by many the first art historian — famously dismissed their meticulous craft as “counterfeit painting”, which has “always been exercised by persons possessing more patience than skill in design.” Though “praiseworthy and masterly”, wooden inlay was nevertheless an extravagant waste of time, wrote Vasari, doomed to a short life “because of worms and fire”, noteworthy only insofar as it demonstrated the Renaissance fascination with perspective, in other words, a curiosity like pastiglia boxes or mother of pearl,

 the emperor Charles V,  motto: Plus Ultra, “further beyond” was so impressed by this technique he has a cabinet made for him, had his motto inlaid on one of the flaps of an impressive writing cabinet built for him in around 1532, a reification of his “invincible” reign and Spain’s recent success in the New World, the outside beautiful,

 the inside stunning,

 the Gubbio studiolo (ca. 1478–82), is considered perhaps the quintessential Italian Renaissance object and best known example of intarsia paneling, it consists of a private study built for the contemplative benefit of Federico da Montefeltro, above a part of the Studiolo Gubbio as installed in the Metropolitan Museum,

detail showing one of the many trompe l’oeil cupboards, I have to say the more I look at some of the pictures above the more I am amazed at the countless hours of work that must have gone into the making of these examples of intarsia, the above illustration form The Met, and help with the text from Daniel Elkind.

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