Image: Gerrit Jensen, marquetry panel, London, 1685. Courtesy of Burghley House, Lincolnshire.

The Wonder of Wood: Decorative Inlay and Marquetry in Europe and America, 1600–1900

A Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library and Philadelphia Museum of Art Conference

April 26–28, 2022

The Wonder of Wood is a unique collaborative conference that will explore the history and artistry of inlay and marquetry within America and Europe. In both techniques, 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. “The woodworker’s desire to decorate wooden objects,” noted a famed marqueter, “is as old as man’s desire to work with wood.” Inlay and marquetry traditions existed in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, were revived during the Renaissance (as seen in the glorious Gubbio studiolo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art), and have flourished ever since. Over the centuries, the complexity of the ornament has varied enormously, from simple bands of light and dark stringing to outline the drawers of a plain desk of the 1790s to breathtaking trompe l’oeil imagery on Dutch and French cabinets a century earlier. By focusing on the years from 1600 to 1900, The Wonder of Wood will consider an especially rich period in European and American furniture history during which craftsmen produced many of the grandest inlaid objects ever made.

This conference brings together 23 exceptional scholars—a creative mix of curators, academics, conservators, artists, and craftsmen drawn from museums and private practice in America and abroad—resulting in an unparalleled roster of conference speakers, including two of the globe’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 on this topic with the public.

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 the lasting record of this ground-breaking conference. $375; $300 for members of Winterthur or the PMA; $250 Access to Asynchronous Virtual Conference Content; $225 for nonprofit employees. Scholarships are available.

All presentations will be recorded and made available two weeks after the conference for access by conference registrants for one month.

Space is limited. Register now! 

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Winterthur Museum, Copeland Lecture Hall

8:00–8:45 am Coffee and registration
8:45–9:25 am  Welcome and introduction
Chris Strand, Interim Charles F. Montgomery Director and CEO
Brock Jobe, Professor Emeritus of American Decorative Arts
Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Winterthur, Delaware

9:25–10:45 am

European Marquetry in the Second Half of the 18th Century
Yannick Chastang, Independent Furniture Conservator and Designer
Kent, United Kingdom
Lecture/Video Assist Demonstration

10:45–11:15 am Break
11:15 am–12:00 pm

The Challenges of Identifying Woods Used in Marquetry and Inlay: Past, Present, and Future
Randy S. Wilkinson, Senior Furniture Conservator, Fallon & Wilkinson, LLC
Baltic, Connecticut

12:00–12:35 pm

Made with a Knife, Not with a Brush
Antoine Wilmering, Senior Program Officer, Getty Foundation
Los Angeles, California

12:35–1:35 pm Lunch
1:35–2:50 pm

Boullework Past, Present, and Future
Don Williams, Retired Senior Furniture Conservator, Smithsonian Institution
Suitland, Maryland
Lecture/Video Assist Demonstration

2:50–3:20 pm

Taracea de las Américas: Inlay and Marquetry Traditions in Colonial Latin America,
Dennis Carr, Virginia Steele Scott Chief Curator of American Art, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
San Marino, California

3:20–3:50 pm 

Two Cupboards by Herman Doomer– the Origins of Dutch Floral Marquetry
Reinier Baarsen, Senior Curator of Furniture, Rijksmuseum
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

3:50–4:20 pm Break
4:20–4:50 pm

The Marquetry of Gerrit Jensen
Adam Bowett, Independent Furniture Historian and Chairman of the Chippendale Society
Ripon, United Kingdom

4:50–5:20 pm

Drawings for Parisian Marquetry of the Mid–Eighteenth Century Reinier Baarsen, Senior Curator of Furniture, Rijksmuseum
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

5:20–5:50 pm

Inlaid Lutes and Sand–Shaded Flutes: Marquetry Harpsichords from the Workshop of Jacob Kirkman
Alexandra Cade, PhD candidate in American Civilization
University of Delaware
Newark, Delaware

5:50–6:00 pm Announcements and concluding remarks
6:00–7:45 pm Happy hour and small group craft demonstrations in the Visitor Center and patio (weather permitting); galleries and museum open for special tours

 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Philadelphia Museum of Art

8:00–8:30 am Gather at the Winterthur Visitor Center for coffee; buses board at 8:30 am
8:30–9:30 am Bus trip to Philadelphia Museum of Art
9:30–10:00 am

Welcome in the Skylight Atrium, Perelman Building
Kathy Foster, Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Senior Curator of American Art and Director of the Center for American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(Divide into two groups: Group A to attend lectures; Group B to tour museum and special exhibition)

Group A

10:00–10:30 am

“A Beautiful Kind of Mosaic Work”: Inlaid Marquetry on Early Pennsylvania Tables
Alexandra Kirtley, Montgomery–Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

10:30–11:00 am

Recent Discoveries on 18th-Century Marquetry Furniture at Hillwood
Rebecca Tilles, Associate Curator of 18th-Century French & Western European Fine and Decorative Arts, Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
Washington, DC

11:00–11:30 am

Observations on the Furniture Attributed to Jean–Henri Riesener
Jürgen Huber, Senior Furniture Conservator, The Wallace Collection
London, United Kingdom

11:30 am–12:00 pm Break
12:00–12:30 pm

Turnbull’s Diversity: Marquetry in a Post–Slavery Workshop
John Cross, Independent Furniture Historian and Curator, Frederick Parker Collection, The Furniture Makers’ Company
London, United Kingdom

12:30–1:00 pm

A Note on French Marquetry and Inlay in 19th–Century France (1816–1880)
Olivier Hurstel, Curator of Collections, 17th and 18th century
Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design
Bordeaux, France

1:00–4:15 pm  Lunch and self–guided tours of American and European galleries, including special marquetry and inlay exhibition

Group B

10:00 am–1:00 pm

Self–guided tours of American and European galleries, including special marquetry and inlay exhibition, and lunch

1:00–1:15 pm

Walk from the main building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art to the auditorium of the Perelman Building

1:15–1:45 pm

‘A Beautiful Kind of Mosaic Work’: Inlaid Marquetry on Early Pennsylvania Tables
Alexandra Kirtley, Montgomery–Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1:45–2:15 pm

Recent Discoveries on 18th-Century Marquetry Furniture at Hillwood
Rebecca Tilles, Associate Curator of 18th-Century French & Western European Fine and Decorative Arts
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
Washington, DC

2:15–2:45 pm

Observations on the Furniture Attributed to Jean–Henri Riesener
Jürgen Huber, Senior Furniture Conservator, The Wallace Collection
London, United Kingdom  

2:45– 3:15 pm Break
3:15–3:45 pm

Turnbull’s Diversity: Marquetry in a Post–Slavery Workshop
John Cross, Independent Furniture Historian and Curator, Frederick Parker Collection, The Furniture Makers’ Company
London, United Kingdom

3:45–4:15 pm 

A Note on French Marquetry and Inlay in 19th–Century France (1816–1880)
Olivier Hurstel, Curator of Collections, 17th and 18th Century
Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design
Bordeaux, France

Groups A and B

4:30–5:45 pm Board buses and return to Winterthur
6:00–8:30 pm  Reception at Winterthur 

Thursday, April 28, 2022
Winterthur Museum, Copeland Lecture Hall

8:00–8:45 am Coffee
8:45–10:15 am

Demystifying the ‘Art and Mystery’ of Inlay: Surface Ornamentation during the Federal Period
Steve Latta, Professor, Cabinetmaking and Wood Technology
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lecture/Video Assist Demonstration

10:15–10:45 am  Break
10:45–11:20 am

Flowers, Fans, Shells, and Eagles: Creating an Online Dictionary of American Inlay
Daniel Ackermann, Chief Curator and Director of Research, Collections, and Archaeology, Old Salem Museums & Garden and Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts
Winston–Salem, North Carolina
Brock Jobe, Professor Emeritus of American Decorative Arts Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library
Winterthur, Delaware

11:20–11:50 am

German Inlay and German Influences on Inlaid Furniture from Charleston, South Carolina
Tom Savage, Director of Educational Travel and Conferences
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Williamsburg, Virginia

11:50 am–12:20 pm

Rife with Inlay: The Banding and Pictorial Inlay of One Virginia Cabinetmaker
Tara Gleason Chicirda, Curator of Furniture, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Williamsburg, Virginia

12:20–1:30 pm Lunch
1:30–2:45 pm 

Historic Objects and Techniques and Their Influence on a Contemporary Marquetry Artist
Silas Kopf, Studio Furniture Artist
Northampton, Massachusetts
Lecture/Video Assist Demonstration

2:45–3:10 pm

The Inlaid Furniture of the Upper Ohio River Valley, 1790–1830
Andrew Richmond, Independent Scholar and Owner, Wipiak Consulting and Appraisals
Marietta, Ohio

3:10–3:35 pm

Decorative Inlay in Kentucky
Mack Cox, Collector and Independent Scholar
Richmond, Kentucky

3:35–4:05 pm

Break

4:05–4:35 pm

Marquetry and Inlay in New York Furniture of America’s Gilded Age
Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator of American Decorative Arts, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York

4:35–5:05 pm 

The Marquetry of George A. Schastey and Co. (1873–1897)
Marijn Manuels, Conservator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New  York

5:05–5:15 pm Concluding remarks
6:00–9:00 pm Preview party, Philadelphia Antiques Show (optional)
Image: Gerrit Jensen, marquetry panel, London, 1685. Courtesy of Burghley House, Lincolnshire.

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