Serpentine Chests 1740-1860

The veneer on the chests, below, is used in its remarkable contrast throughout; It is accompanied by string inlay and the predomininat motif is the oval, colloquially called tal-maqrut. The linear veneer on the outer border of each drawers is applied at 90° to the edges, whilst the centre enclosed panel is quarter veneered. This patterning is presumed to be the earliest decoration found on serpentine chests of drawers of this size.

The 2 serpentine chests, above, are rare examples of a master craftsman toying with, and flaunting his talent. The ever-present string inlay becomes an amorphous pattern where the observant eye is drawn across the landscape of inlay.


The 9 examples above share a central vertical dividing narrow panel where the key escutcheon is placed. The use of olive and orange woods is evident in these chests from the late 18th to the 1st quarter 19th century.

In the 2 examples of chests of drawers shown above one can observe major similarites that will clearly lead us to understand that they were made by the same hand. For comparison observe:

The oval medallion on the drawer fronts

The vertical centred divider on the drawers

The apron beneath the lowest drawer

The chest of drawers, below, would be from the mid 19th century. This group main characteristic is the use of orange veneer in uninterrupted lines across the drawers, encircling an olive centre panel.

The chests of 3 drawers, serpentine ( and one straight fronted) shown below are marginally smaller than the bigger versions as those shown above. The drawers are of equal depth and in the top 4 examples the veneer is of the herringbone type: The linear pattern is laid at 45° creating a mirrored herringbone pattern.


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