Much like people still use fungus riddled Diamond Willow to make walking sticks and other items, spalted wood was also a part of the art of Intarsia, a specific type of wood inlay. Here are a few stunning examples, and you can see and read much more about the history of this art at the Public Domain Review.
The technique of Intarsia — the fitting together of pieces of intricately cut wood to make often complex images — has produced some of the most awe-inspiring pieces of Renaissance craftsmanship.
Note: if you click over to the Met Museum, the way to see the images full size is to click on ‘download’. All the images here, click for full size!
Trompe le oeil has always fascinated me, it was my favorite topic back in Art 101, the History of Art. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Carracci which was the highlight of the semester.
It has the same fascination for me, and this is a most amazing example of it -- I’d swear those were real cupboards, and just the thought of doing this kind of work in wood, it leaves me speechless.
I remember the beautifully inlayed cupboards and tables at a castle Kozel that we visited when I was a child. Intarsia is beautiful.
The art is not lost, afaik, only not used as much as it used to be, and not for furniture. There are still some artists in CZ who make pictures this way, I saw a cameo in TV about one recently.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Intarsia is also a knitting method. I recorded a few knitting shows for the Redhead with that in the title. Don’t know if she ever used it, but I’m sure she knew how.
Charly, no, I agree, it’s not truly lost, but certainly the same degree of works is not the same at all. It’s hard for me to imagine just how much work this is, from start to finish. There’s gathering your woods, then putting together the image you want, making all the pieces you need, then placing it altogether, it astonishes me. I have no idea just how long it would take to make a large piece like the Emperor Charles’s writing table and such, but it has to take a good amount of time to do. Of course, most all these renaissance pieces would have gone to people with a whole lot of money, and I imagine people who actually do this work now want to be adequately compensated too, so they would still be works mostly available to a certain class.
Joseph Zowghi says
It’s so intricate. There are hundreds of teeny tiny pieces fitted together in the first work.