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.
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.
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.
Jensen appears to have wowed the London scene with his floral marquetry, and by the early 1680s he was accredited as a royal cabinetmaker.
The pieces at Ham attributed to Jensen appear to date from the 1670s or early 1680s.
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.
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.
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.