Gerhard Dagly


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(b Spa, French Flanders, 1657; d Bensberg, 1715). Walloon japanner, active in Berlin. He practised as a decorative artist in Spa before moving in the 1680s to Berlin, where he became famous for his painted furniture. By 1687 his proficiency in gilding and decorative painting, particularly japanning, which imitated lacquerwork from East Asia, gained him the post of Kammerkünstler to Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg. On the accession in 1688 of Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg (after 1701, Frederick I of Prussia) he retained responsibility for interior decoration and furnishings at the court and in 1696 was appointed Intendant des Ornements. His brother Jacques Dagly (1665-1729) joined him in the management of the firm, which provided gilded, polychromed and japanned cabinets as well as such other furnishings as treen painted to imitate porcelain for the royal palaces. Their clients included harpsichord manufacturers as well as the nobility, and such was their fame that in Paris their cabinets became known as ‘Berlin’ cabinets. They embellished snuff-boxes, cane knobs, sword guards and tin wares and invented methods of applying silver varnish in place of gold leaf on books and leather. Dagly's researches also included methods of reviving varnish on oil paintings, which resulted in his court appointment as Kunstkammer Meister and the publication of his Recueil des mémoires des diverses expériences fait au sujet de la conservation des tableaux (1706). In addition he promoted methods of embalming and taxidermy, as well as treatments for preserving stone, plaster, metal and timber. He closed his workshops in 1713.

From The Grove Encyclopedia of Decorative Arts in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Decorative Arts, Furniture, and Industrial Design.

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