This early marqueterie falls into sharp divisions. Fashions appear to have been short-lived, whether regulated by English patrons or by the craftsmen themselves. This stained and white ivory inlay ceases abruptly, and is not repeated, even as occasional decoration, after about 1685. It was as if the "something new" of the later seventeenth century interdicted anything belonging to the expired fashion. Even in such examples as the convex or "cushion-moulded" mirror frames, such as Fig. 360, where one would imagine that stock inlay, especially that in panels, would have been used up, at a date considerably later than the vogue of the marqueterie itself, the "fashion of the moment is usually rigidly followed.
Fig. 374. The Top Of The Table, Fig. 373. - 3 ft. 3 ins. by 2 ft. 3 ins.
The inlay of the early Orange period is generally in monotone, light wood in dark, and the design a coarse scrolling. Of this manner Fig. 361 is an example. It is to the marqueterie of this kind that the term "seaweed," if it have any meaning at all, - should be applied. Its strong Dutch character will be remarked in the illustration, and the use of pale walnut for the ground veneer serves to emphasise this. The counterpart to this coarse scrolled marqueterie can be found in the early long cases, containing clocks by makers of lesser renown. It is doubtful if the important clockmakers, with the exception, perhaps, of Dan Quare, placed their clocks in marqueterie cases at all.
Fig. 375. Walnut Bureau On Stand. - Inlaid with Arabesque marqueterie. Date about 1690-5. - Col. H. H. Mulliner.
To the same period as this coarse marqueterie belongs the custom of veneering with oyster-pieces in radiating patterns, as in Fig. 362. There is little to be gleaned from the general form of many of these cabinets on spiral-leg stands with shaped swept stretchers. They follow, usually, a set pattern, of a classical cornice surmounting a cushion-moulded frieze (usually containing a drawer opening on the sides), with a frieze-moulding of a bead and fillet. Below this are two doors (at a later stage the whole front is one panel which is hinged at the bottom and falls forward to act as a writing bed), and behind is a collection of drawers, veneered and inlaid to correspond, and a small central cupboard with door. This pattern persists from about 1675 to nearly 1700, with little or no modification, and it is the character of the inlay only which enables the later to be distinguished from the earlier examples. It will be noticed that in Fig. 362 an ingenious use is made of the sap-rings of the oyster-pieces, in the decorative effect of the entire panel. It would almost appear that the " eye " of the peacock's feather had inspired this elaborate veneering.
Fig. 376. Walnut Table. - Inlaid with marqueterie in ground of holly, banded with walnut oyster-pieces. - Date about 1695. Col. H. H. Mulliner.
Fig. 377. The Top Of The Table, Fig. 376. - 3 ft. 2 ins. by 2 ft. 2 ins.
The next phase of English marqueterie appears to have been confined to the short reign of James II. Fig. 363 may be given as the type. There is a progression, here, from the earlier centred oval, towards the later " all-over" inlay, although the oval does not appreciably decline in favour until the end of the seventeenth century, but in the later years is more frequently used without marqueterie; oyster-pieces, herring-bone stringing or veneers of exceptional figure or burr being substituted. So rapidly does this taste for marqueterie decline, in certain districts, - probably due to the cost of the work itself placing it beyond the means of any but the wealthy, - that a separate classification of English furniture of this period, that of the plain walnut of William and Mary, might be attempted, as this walnut furniture of William III differs in many important details, from that of the succeeding reign.
Fig. 378. China Cabinet. - Veneered with oyster-pieces of walnut and laburnum, and inlaid with marqueterie. - Date about 1695. Viscount Rothermere.
Fig. 379. Another View Of The China Cabinet, Fig. 378. - The name " Samuel Bennett " is inlaid on the inside of this door and the address " Monmouth Square on the other.
The broad treatment of marqueterie, with centre panels as in Fig. 363, surrounded by others in a wide framing, the inlay sometimes in yellow wood (sycamore or holly), but more often in various colours, was the fashionable manner of 1690-5, and was nearly always used for pieces of important size, such as this cabinet, or for large cupboard presses, of the kind to be found at Burghley and elsewhere. It is with this phase that the characteristic English marqueterie begins, and this statement can be made with considerable confidence, as, apart from the marked difference in massing and general design which these large pieces present (which might have been simply the result of a new taste in the importation of pieces) it is with this work that the English marqueterie cutter begins to show his 'prentice hand, in such technical details as the cutting (and designing) of panels in the one piece, the cutting of marqueterie and ground separately (resulting in an absence of the mechanical accuracy so noticeable in the earlier work), and the laying of veneers with hot glue, with such consequences as the splitting and warping referred to at an earlier stage of this chapter.
C. 1695. R- W. Wright, Esq.
Fig. 380. Table. Veneered with walnut and inlaid with marqueterie. Top 3 ft. 3 ins. by 2 ft. 2 ins.