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Given by Mr Thompson Lyon Esq.
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Straw marquetry was known as early as the 17th century, but it was most popular in the period 1780–1830 in France and Britain. The straw was split and flattened, then glued into place on thin paper on which the design had been drawn. This was then glued to a wooden carcase, which was usually covered first with a thicker paper. The maker could divide the straw into two, four or more strips, depending on the fineness needed for the design. Colour could be added to the surface with various varnishes, which also enhanced the glossy appearance of the marquetry. Straw marquetry was most suitable for small objects such as tea chests or work boxes but occasionally larger pieces of furniture were decorated in this way. Because straw work is very fragile, it is rare for pieces to survive in good condition.
Workbox, in the form of a miniature roll-top desk, veneered in coloured straw marquetry.
The cabinet has three distinct sections. The top lid hinges open to reveal a tray with two compartments which can be removed. The interior lid is decorated with a mirror which spans both compartments. In the middle section, the curved lid slides up to reveal smaller compartments. On the back there is a small drawer, which is above another tray with four lidded compartments, two of which are glass. The tray can be removed completely by sliding it out. In the base there is another drawer.
The box is decorated with coloured straw marquetry both inside and out. The decoration consists of cheques, diagonal lines and other devices. In the middle section, the centre back panel is decorated with a small building. The front and back of the workbox are both decorated with the word 'Hope'.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
Object history note
The object is stylistically very similar to pieces of straw work made by french and dutch prisoners of war at Norman Cross, Peterborough between 1796 and 1815.
workbox, in the style of a minature rolltop desk, veneered in straw marquetry, English, 1796-1815
Furniture and Woodwork Collection