Marquetry (also spelled as marqueterie) is the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. The technique may be applied to case furniture or even seat furniture, to decorative small objects with smooth, veneerable surfaces or to freestanding pictorial panels appreciated in their own right. Parquetry is very similar in technique to marquetry. Parquetry utilizes pieces of veneer in simple repeating geometric shapes to form tiled patterns such as would cover a floor (parquet), or forming basketweave or brickwork patterns, trelliswork and the like.
Marquetry (and parquetry too) differs from the more ancient craft of inlay, or intarsia, in which a solid body of one material is cut out to receive sections of another to form the surface pattern. The word derives from a Middle French word meaning "inlaid work".
André-Charles Boulle, who founded a dynasty of royal and Parisian cabinet-makers (ébénistes) and gave his name to a technique of marquetry employing tortoiseshell and brass with pewter in arabesque or intricately foliate designs. Boulle marquetry dropped out of favor in the 1720s, but was revived in the 1780s. In the decades between, carefully matched quarter-sawn veneers sawn from the same piece of timber were arranged symmetrically on case pieces and contrasted with gilt-bronze mounts. Floral marquetry came into favor in Parisian furniture in the 1750s,