Decoupage ( french for 'cutting out') is the art or technique of decorating objects with paper cut-outs over which varnish is applied.
Although paper cutting started as a popular folk art in Europe in the 12th century, the, now classic, style of découpage has its roots dating from the 17th century when lacquered furniture from the East became fashionable in Europe.
Despite the high cost of these Chinese cabinets, demand in Europe started to exceed its supply which was when Venetian cabinet makers started producing fake copies of these works in order to fulfil the increasing demand. This they would do by having apprentices copy paintings and engravings of leading artists. These hand painted prints would then be cut-up carefully and pasted to the surface of objects or furniture and covered with many layers of lacquer. Hence an alternative form of decoration was created which at the time was often called "l'arte del povero- poor mans art; a quicker and cheaper way to simulate the original art form. This was effectively the beginnings of Decoupage
Decoupage has moved along with the times revealing contemporary artists such as: Fornesetti, Henri Matisse to the more contemporary commercial artist such as John Derian, who has an extensive line of creative decoratives and Jill Barnes, who is widely regarded as the most talented decoupage artist with her incredible and unique collage creations decorating her objects.
Piero Fornasetti Cabinet 1951-1975