Wikipedia has this to say about intarsia, a woodworking technique that originated centuries ago:
“Intarsia is a woodworking technique that uses varied shapes, sizes, and species of wood fitted together to create a mosaic-like picture with an illusion of depth. Intarsia is created through the selection of different types of wood, using their natural grain pattern and color (but can involve the use of stains and dyes) to create variations in the pattern. After selecting the specific woods to be used within the pattern, each piece is then individually cut, shaped, and finished. Sometimes areas of the pattern are raised to create more depth. Once the individual pieces are complete, they are fitted together like a jig-saw puzzle and glued to wood backing which is sometimes cut to the outline shape of the image.”
In Sorrento in the late 19th century, this technique was combined with Tunbridge style micro mosaic techniques that were used in various types of Sorrento ware in the late 19th century. Unlike the natural woods used in Tunbridge Ware, the woods used in Sorrento Ware are sometimes dyed – occasionally a way to distinguish one mosaic from the other.
The picture here for sale is a wonderful example of the marriage of these two techniques. The micro mosaic border to the picture helps to date it, since intarsia pictures continue to be made in Sorrento today. The picture appears to depict a monastery or humble church along the coast of Italy with an island volcano in the distance. It measures 9½” by 7⅛”.
The intarsia work is in excellent condition and is very lovely. The mosaic is in very good condition, with minimal loss but with very small, slight scratches/cracks. Moreover, there is general wear to the mosaic that appears to have caused some “blurring,” and I speculate that it may have something to do with dyes that may have been used. I offer it is a possible explanation, but I am not an expert on woodworking.
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