Tristan and Isolde: Classic Art on a Dresser

Tristan and Isolde: Classic Art on a Dresser

Today I wanted to share a new piece I just finished up and put in the shop. I started with this antique dresser I bought at an estate sale.

Antique dresser minus its hardware


On this piece, I wanted to highlight the romantic story of Tristan and Isolde, a medieval tale of love and longing. The story between the lovers likely inspired the tale of Lancelot and Quinevere, and if you’re not familiar with the story, you can check out this link to learn more.

One of my favorite pieces in Art History is by 19th c. Spanish painter, Rogelio de Egusquiza. Painted in 1912, this version titled “Tristán e Iseo (La vida,) shows the passion of the two lovers as well as the artist’s mastery of light and color.

Tristán e Iseo (La vida) by Rogelio de Egusquiza

I used the image transfer process to put the image onto the dresser as shown in the first picture below. You must work quickly when transferring an image of this size. The medium used (in this case Modge Podge) will dry quickly and so I slap it on as neatly and fast as I can. Note: you can see I put a layer of white as a base on the bare wood before transferring, so the image will be more opaque and vivid.

The next part is my favorite: painting over the transfer! As you can see, when tiling a transfer, you don’t want those seams showing…which is the main reason I paint over the transfer. Once I started hiding the seams in my painting, I decided to carry that out over the whole surface so it covers the entire front. In doing so, I am color-matching all the paints and essentially painting it from scratch. I don’t want any raw wood/image transfer showing through in the final product, so it gets a little tedious…so I’ve started using readers to do this part! (I’m old. Boo.)

Painting over the transfer

Here are a few more progress pics.


Work in process

Work in process

I don’t have good pics of the little details, but I also made paper-clay embellishments on the sides of the piece and under the top. I painted them black and then gilded them and attached. I stained the top with General Finishes java gel and attached the cleaned-up hardware.

Done! Here she is.

Finished piece: “Tristan and Isolde”

If you liked this post then please leave me a comment below and forward this post to your friends! Thanks for stopping by today.

2017-08-04T22:21:44+00:00 Categories: Art, Creative, Design, DIY, Furniture, Home Decor|Tags: , , |4 Comments


  1. Chris Peglar June 30, 2017 at 9:24 am - Reply

    I love it Meredith!! It’s truly a work of art!

  2. william January 17, 2018 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Truly beautiful Meredith. I do have a question about the edges at the drawers. Would you split the edge before its dry or after?

    • So Very Merry January 18, 2018 at 2:24 am - Reply

      Hi William, thank you for the comment! I split the edges after I remove all the paper and then paint into it. That way I can paint slightly inside the drawer edges so there’s no missing spots. Thanks for the question. 🙂

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