intarsia (ĭntärˈsēə) [key] or tarsia, properly a form of wood inlaying. The term is sometimes applied to inlays of other materials such as ivory and metal. It is differentiated from marquetry by the basic veneering process of the latter. The term intarsia is specifically applied to a type of inlaying probably developed in Siena, Italy, in the 13th cent. and derived from Middle Eastern inlays of ivory upon wood. This art was widely practiced in Italy from c.1400 to c.1600. The fashion for intarsia declined thereafter, although some works in this medium were still produced. Intarsia work was also practiced to a limited extent elsewhere in western Europe. Designs included pictorial scenes and conventionalized scrolls, arabesques, and geometric forms.
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