- The production concerning Sorrento in the field of wood inlay and cabinet-making has had a time of highest splendour in the Nineteenth Century, but it is included in a tradition whose tradition goes back to the 14th century.
Wood inlay is a craftsmanlike expression which, thanks to an exquisite and refined mould – and to the complexity of the objects made – has often reached the rank of sublime art expression.
Born as wood inlay, it consists of making images (landscapes, portraits, decorations, still lives, etc.) by recurring to the use of very thin sheets of kinds of wood of different colours or shades, alternated to leaves of other materials as thin as them (such as ivory and mother-of-pearl) or upon which, especially in the Baroque time, metals and hard stones were inserted.
Already diffused in Italy in 1300, wood inlay developed especially in the following centuries, until reaching its full maturity during the Renaissance, though its diffusion has involved a production, universally appreciated, but geographically limited to the development in few territorial realities.
Among these, that of Tuscany (in particular Siena, Pisa and Florence), of Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Veneto and the area of Naples.
Surely existing in Sorrento since remote times, wood inlay knew its highest splendour in Sorrento Coast at the beginning of the 19th century and levels of almost absolute perfection after the flourishing of the school applied to industry of wood inlay and carving (1886).
The particular historical period in which the flourishing of Sorrento production enabled the local masters artisans, while they on one hand underwent the positive conditionings of the so many artists who at the time frequented the Coast, on the other they did not sit by the evolutions concerning inlay.
Less appreciated than in previous times – also as a consequence of the advent of Neoclassicism – this art expression was in competition with cabinet-making (characterized by the exclusive use of wood for the making of mosaics, decorations or real drawings).
This “novelty” favoured the materializing of new symbols and new impulses thanks to which one concentrated on the making of objects ranging from panels to cases, from furniture to that of marriage large chests and finally to that drawing the attentions of collectors.
Though undergoing the completion by other European realities (among which, for example, Nice), Sorrento wood tarsia (both in the form of inlay and in the form of cabinet-making) has been able to distinguish itself and be appreciated for the choice of techniques (in particular that of mosaic) and of absolutely original materials (wood often got by the typical local vegetation).
Known and appreciated at an international level, this technique of working has been increasingly reason of interest and has recently drawn the attentions of the US Smithsonian Institute which has dedicated deep studies and analysis to it.
Until the second half of the Twentieth century, to then production of wood inlay Sorrento also added a refined activity in the field of wood carving.