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JOEL Joel's Blog

School of Painting for the Imitation of Woods & Marbles


Faux Mahogany
Faux Mahogany

If I had to pick the most spectacular "how to" book in my collection, it would have to be "School of Painting for The Imitation of Woods & Marbles / as taught & practised by A.R.van der Burg & P.van der." The original edition was published in 1875; my edition is 1887. While thin, it is huge - medium folio (18 inches or 47 cm) tall. Not only is the book huge, it is filled with samples of work that are printed in fabulous color via the chromo lithographic process. Color of this quality and quantity was rare for any book at the time - and for a book on craft technique, nearly unique.
Faux wood and marble patterns had a real heyday in the 19th century, and this book goes into significant detail on technique and the tools. I don't do graining, but I can appreciate that this is the most comprehensive book on the subject that I have ever seen. I would guess that the reason for its size is to present the color plates in samples big enough so you can both emulate the pattern and see the detail.
closeup of the faux Mahogany plate above
closeup of the faux Mahogany plate above

You can actually take a look at the entire book on line at the Yale library. The Yale scan doesn't really give a sense of scale and majesty of the original book, but it is complete. My copy has a later binding, but the contents are the same. Here are a few pages to give you a sense of what it is about.
You can see in the closeup of the Mahogany (above) that the detail in the graining is amazing. The two plates for both materials show the original graining and then another layer of detail and depth.
Faux St. Remi Marble
Faux St. Remi Marble

In other news, I will be giving a talk at Makeville Studio this Friday, March 15, 2024, at 6:00PM on Rasps in the Woodshop. It is free and you are all invited.

N.B. I apologize for sub-optimal alignment of the pictures, a result of the book not opening flat. Rumor has it that this may not be the week for experimenting with Photoshop editing without causing an international scandal.
Join the conversation
03/13/2024 Walter Egon
That mahogany is just delicious! And the marble isn't bad either. Quite a skill to be able to paint like that.
Your last line had me giggling like a wayward princess :-)
03/13/2024 Bruce Mack
Last night I was staining a pine box, trying to give it a dark tropical appearance with cabernet glaze over poly. Of course, I failed. We live in diminished times, seeking miracles from a can.
The mahogany plate is beautiful. Thanks, Joel.
03/13/2024 Ian Keck
The birdseye maple in the Yale copy of the book is impressive!
03/14/2024 Paul Bailey
Back in the 1950’s St. Martin’s Church in Port Leyden, NY went through a renovation and a faux marble technique was used on the columns. Even at my young age then I was amazed at the technique - maybe the craftsman had a copy of the book.
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