Press Room Search

Current Press Releases
Archived Press Releases

News Home Archived Press Releases

Archival Information
For recent information, please see Current Press Releases.

The Getty's Popular "Making of" Series Continues with a Look at the Construction of an Intricate 18th-Century French Marquetry Table

The Making of Furniture at the Getty, Opening October 7, 2003

July 15, 2003

Los Angeles—The Getty’s popular “Making of” series continues with The Making of Furniture, opening at the Getty on October 7, 2003. The installation looks at the design and craftsmanship involved in the production of an 18th-century French marquetry table, intricately inlaid with elaborate floral patterns and framed with gilt bronze mounts. The Making of Furniture evokes the workshop of an 18th-century Parisian furniture maker, revealing the beauty and precision of his art.

“Our furniture collection is a great favorite with Getty visitors,” says Deborah Gribbon, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum and vice president of the J. Paul Getty Trust. “Yet the complex techniques used to make them are often unfamiliar to a modern audience. It's not unusual for marquetry to be mistaken initially for painted decoration, although in reality the intricate designs are made up of inlaid wood of many colors. This installation, by focusing on the crafting of just one extraordinary table, will explain how these amazing pieces were created. Visitors will see all the components and gain an understanding of how they were worked into a highly complex piece of furniture.” 
The small and elegant French writing table, dated about 1754 (during the reign of Louis XV) and created by Jean-François Oeben (1721–1763), is part of the Getty’s permanent collection. Made of oak with gilt bronze mounts, it is notable for its highly detailed floral and trellised marquetry pattern, made up of multicolored inlaid woods, including kingwood, tulipwood, amaranth, boxwood, holly, and stained fruitwoods. A similar table is shown in a portrait of Madame Pompadour, mistress to Louis XV, painted about 1763 by François Guérin (private collection).

The installation will include the actual table and three models showing the various stages of construction. The first model shows the basic components of the piece with the joints cut but held apart so that they are visible. The second explains the shaping of the table and mechanical functions of the sliding top and drawers, and shows the undulating forms of the table ready to receive the veneer. The third model follows the progression of the inlaid work on the aprons and legs, as well as the production of the mounts. The installation will also feature displays of period cabinetmaking tools and finishes and engraved illustrations showing the working environment of an 18th-century Parisian craftsman. 

The Getty’s collection of French furniture and decorative arts is one of the finest in the country, and is particularly strong in 18th-century furniture, spanning the reigns of Louis XIV through Louis XVI. 
The Making of Furniture is part of the popular “Making of” series, which explores the historical techniques behind various art forms. Other presentations in the series include The Making of a Medieval Book, which has been on view at the Getty since May (through September 28, 2003).

*The Museum’s table can be viewed on the Getty Web site at

NOTE TO EDITORS: Images available upon request.
For more information, the public may call 310-440-7300 or visit

Artist-at-Work Demonstrations
(dates may be rescheduled)
Artist Patrick Edwards demonstrates the art of marquetry.
Drop-in visitors are welcome, admission is free. South Pavilion Bookstore
Thursdays: April 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, and May 6, 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Sundays: April 4 and 18, and May 2 and 9, 1:00-3:00 p.m.

All books are available at the Getty bookstore at the Getty center, online at, or by calling 800-223-3431.

By Pierre Ramond
Translated by Jacqueline Derenne, Claire Emili, and Brian Considine
Combines a thorough explanation of the craft techniques with detailed analysis of period examples, thereby giving readers a better understanding of marquetry pieces and new insights into shop practices.
Cloth: $75.00

Masterpieces of Marquetry
By Pierre Ramond
Translated by Brian Considine
This large-format, three-volume set is the most comprehensive examination to date of the techniques used by expert marqueters in creating their exquisite masterpieces.
Cloth: $295.00

Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Decorative Arts
Brings together more than 100 objects from the Museum's collection of European decorative arts, including a generous selection of French and Italian furniture from the mid-16th to the early 19th century.
Cloth: $34.95, Paper: $22.50

# # #

About the Getty:

The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that features the Getty Conservation Institute, the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Getty Research Institute. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu.

Sign up for e-Getty at to receive free monthly highlights of events at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa via e-mail, or visit our event calendar for a complete calendar of public programs.

Visiting the Getty Villa: The Getty Villa is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Tuesday and major holidays. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free. A ticket is required for admission. Tickets can be ordered in advance, or on the day of your visit, at or at 310-440-7300. Parking is $15 per car, but free after 5pm for evening events. Groups of 15 or more must make reservations by phone. For more information, call 310-440-7300 (English or Spanish); 310-440-7305 (TTY line for the deaf or hearing impaired). The Getty Villa is at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, California.