A HIGHLIGHT FROM THE FORTHCOMING AUCTION: FINE FURNITURE, CARPETS AND WORKS OF ART | 5 SEPTEMBER
This charming William & Mary kingwood and oyster veneered kneehole desk dates from circa 1690. Its rectangular top incorporates radiating oyster veneered elements and the hinged panel of the top opens to reveal the rosewood veneered interior which features the hinged fall front, a pigeon hole and an arrangement of three drawers. The recessed central cupboard beneath is flanked on each side by four drawers on turned bun feet.
Kingwood was the most expensive wood in use for general furniture making in the 17th century, and at this time was known as princes wood. Kingwood is dense and extremely hard and can be brought to a spectacular finish, however, because of its density it cannot easily be worked with hand tools. Kingwood is only available in small sizes as it comes from a small’ish tree, Dalbergia caerensis, from Brazil. Other woods from the same genus include rosewood, African blackwood and rosewood.
Oystering or oyster veneer is a decorative form of veneering, a type of parquetry. The technique uses thin slices of branches of wood or roots cut in cross-section, typically walnut, olive and kingwood, and less commonly laburnum, yew and crocus. Circular or oval pieces of the veneer are laid side by side to produce various decorative patterns. The shapes formed resemble an oyster shell, hence the technique became known as oyster veneering.
Oystering is likely to have been developed by English cabinet-makers in the 1660s straight after the Restoration of the monarchy and early oyster veneered cabinets were often in crocus or kingwood. A decade later, softer and cheaper woods such as olive and walnut were used for veneering and the fashion become widespread, extending to Holland around the mid-1670s.
AUCTION DATE & LOCATION
Wednesday 5 September | 10.30am
Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 2JE
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