The Sorrentine peninsula boasts a secular tradition in the art of marquetry. From the first half of 800, talented Sorrentine artisans were the first to acquire such technique, which spread extensively all over the Neapolitan territory.
Thanks to the fame which Sorrento enjoyed as a holiday resort, many important people from the world of politics and international culture fame, had the opportunity to appreciate the skill of our master cabinet-makers, enough to be engaged by Francesco I of Bourbon for the restoration of furniture in the Royal Palace
It is based on assembling together small pieces of wood, first sawed to the shape of the design required to be produced. At first, in order to obtain the shades, all the natural wood essences were applied (walnut, holly, thuja, orange tree, etc.) while the frame work of the furniture was olive tree, walnut or chestnut.In this way you acquired a mixture of light and dark due to the various tonalities of the wood and finally perfecting it with small engravings, always hand-made, filled with dark plaster.
of the Sorrentine marquetry.
With the passing of time, the traditional technique of the Sorrentine marquetry was replaced by the "ricacciatura", that is a method typical of the French marquetry, which uses India ink to underline the drawings. However, this technique turned out to be precarious because of the fading in time of the black outline. Other procedures, which modified the old technique in the second half of 800, was the use of coloured wood. In this way one was able to satisfy less demanding purchasers.
The downfall was reached with the realisation of "enamel on wood", where the inlay is limited only to the outline of the design, and the rest is obtained simply by painting with water colours the motif desired.
Are those of the drilled ingot, carried out with a hack-saw, and those of mosaic on wood, reproducing the Opus Tesselatum of Roman tradition, achieved by arranging the various woods in vertical sense, which having been previously placed in geometric or flowered motifs were then cut into strips and laid on the frame structure of the furniture.
At first the marquetry was closely tied to decorations reproducing Pompeian and pagan motifs. Later the craftsmen began to represent scenes of daily life, and the Neapolitan costume depicts the upsurge of Sorrentine marquetry.
The Sorrentine marquetry is today still carried out by master craftsmen who have refined their techniques but still without relinquishing the tradition handed down by their ancestors.