Hans Daniel Sommer was from a family of German cabinetmakers, many of whom had worked in France and were well versed in the elaborate decorative techniques favored by the French court. Sommer established his own workshop in western Germany in the 1660s and made ornate baroque furniture for the German nobility.
Sommer specialized in marquetry--thin, decorative veneers made from various materials. He created the arabesques, or scrolling patterns, found at the center of this tabletop from pewter and tortoiseshell. Laying thin sheets of the two materials on top of each other, he cut them out together, with the aid of a paper pattern, to ensure that the designs would match when assembled. The table, which would have stood in the center of a room, has a decorative border formed from pieces of hard stone, brass, and ebony, and figures made from mother-of-pearl.
Acquired in 1980 80.55