Luke Honey | Decorative Antiques, Chess, Backgammon & Games


November 20, 2015

Wood from the arbutus or strawberry tree was exploited from the 1830s in the production of Irish furniture and treen. This tree flourished in South-West Ireland, where the mild and damp conditions better suited this tree of Mediterranean origin.

The centre for marquetry wares incorporating arbutus was Killarney, but by 1860 the burgeoning industry extended beyond the Killarney area. However, it exhibits many Killarney-type characteristics, including the oval framed view of Muckross Abbey, a tourist attraction near Killarney. Other local sites represented on Killarney ware include Ross Castle, Glena Cottage, Innisfallen, Dunloe Castle and Killarney House. These parquetry images were inspired by engravings published in guide books at the time. Other motifs typical of Killarney ware, such as shamrock, ferns and harps are also employed in the decoration on this board/box.

Jeremiah O'Connor of Killarney was one of the greatest exponents of Killarney marquetry ware, but similar work was produced in Dublin and Cork as well.

Austen (B.): Tunbridge Ware. Ch. 13, p178, W. Foulsham & Co., 1992.

See Lot 35, Phillips' sale on 14th November 1991 for a similar example