Master of marquetry

Top of a table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT114043), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Top of a table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1140043), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Another fascinating article in the recently published book about Ham House is Reinier Baarsen’s investigation of the seventeenth-century Dutch furniture in the house.

Table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1140043), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1140043), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The courts of Charles II, James II and William and Mary employed numerous foreign artists and craftsmen, and as a result English late seventeenth-century taste in interior decoration was decidedly international.

Top of a table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-82 (NT1139568), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Top of a table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-82 (NT1139568), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Baarsen attributes a number of pieces of marquetry furniture at Ham to the cabinetmaker Gerrit Jensen. Not much is known about Jensen, but he seems to have come to England from Holland, possibly in the 1660s, and he appears to have been one of the craftsmen who exported the Dutch taste for floral marquetry across Europe.

Table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-82 (NT1139568), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Jensen appears to have wowed the London scene with his floral marquetry, and by the early 1680s he was accredited as a royal cabinetmaker.

Mirror veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83, at Ham House (NT1139551). ©National Trust Images/John Hammond.

Mirror veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1139551), at Ham House . ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The pieces at Ham attributed to Jensen appear to date from the 1670s or early 1680s.

Crest of a mirror veneered with floral marquetry, featuring a medallion with a Roman emperor, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1139551), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Crest of a mirror veneered with floral marquetry, featuring a medallion with a Roman emperor, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1139551), at Ham House. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The tables all have twisted legs, which is an English characteristic of the period and shows how Jensen was adapting his work to English taste.

Table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1139923), at Ham House . ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1139923), at Ham House . ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

The marquetry also includes French motifs, such as the a chevron-patterned outer border and a central panel showing a vase of flowers with acanthus scrolls on one of the table-tops. Baarsen speculates whether Jensen may have spent some time in Paris before coming to London.

Top of a table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1139923), at Ham House . ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Top of a table veneered with floral marquetry, attributed to Gerrit Jensen, c. 1672-83 (NT1139923), at Ham House . ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

This inventive mixture of styles represents the international taste of the period, and Ham House is one of the few places where this can still be studied in detail.

5 Responses to “Master of marquetry”

  1. Susan Walker Says:

    The mirror reminds me of one without the crest at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/cushion-mirror-54152 .

  2. artandarchitecturemainly Says:

    William and Mary seemed very reluctant to move away from the Netherlands, and had to be coaxed. So it makes perfect sense that they would want to be surrounded by country men, not really “foreigners” in the normal sense. However I am pleased you have shown that some of the most amazing Dutch furniture was made in the 1670s and early 1680s!

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Susan, yes that one is very similar, and also to the design of the top of the third table (1139923). Perhaps the MFA one is by Jensen too.

    Helen, yes interestingly there was a lot of cultural exchange going on between Holland and Britain even before the Glorious Revolution, and even while the two nations were at war, which they often were during the seventeenth century. And I read somewhere that Dutch financial innovations were adopted in Britain as well, helping to fuel the huge growth in trade and manufacturing during the eighteenth century. But equally there was a lot of exchange with France, which again was a rival to Britain (and Holland) in many ways. It seems to have been less like modern ‘total’ warfare and more like the rivalry and creative exchange we see between the Apples and Googles and Microsofts of this day and age :)

  4. Susan Says:

    This is my first visit to your website and I am amazed by the beautiful images of antique tables and mirror in your post, These quality pieces of Dutch furniture are magnificent, Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom.

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks Susan, but it is not my wisdom, just the collective knowledge of the community of curators and conservators:)

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