TARSIA (Ital. Jntarsia). Wood inlay; especially that done in Italy at the close of the Middle Ages and during the era of the Renais sance. The word is received into English as being the only one describing inlay of that era and character as distinguished from that of others. Thus nearly all Tarsia work is done with dark wood like walnut, on which straight lines and curves are incised rather deeply and the incisions then filled with light colored wood. producing, when the work is complete, a general effect of yellow on brown. These lines and curves malce scrolls of different patterns which terminate in small flowers and cltunps of foli age, and in this way help to carry out the great scheme of arabesque decoration which we.asso ciate with Renaissance proper in all the schools of Italy. Heavy furniture, suc.h as cupboards and cabinets, ornamental chests for the storing of clothing, and the like, are adorned in this way; but the most effective examples of the art are in the wooden fittings of church choirs and the long rows of cupboards and closets (am bries) which line some of the sacristies of the churches in central and northern Italy.
Wood inlay of later times and of the North is not often called Tarsia, but the process is the same, and the effects produced differ only according to the style of the time. The most interesting wood inlay out of Italy is that of the Dutch—chests of drawers, wardrobe and writing tables in which spirited little bouquets and .flowers are relieved on a dark ground. This, and all northern inlaid work, disappear in the 17th century in what we call Marquetry (q.v.), which is a mosaic of veneers rather than an inlay. Consult Jacicson, F. Hamilton, 'Intarsia and Marquetry) (1903).