Kimbel & Cabus (New York City, active 1863–82)
Oak, nickel-plated brass and iron hardware
55 1/8 x 39 1/4 x 20 1/2 in. (140 x 99.7 x 52.7 cm)
Purchase, Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Gift, in honor of John Nally and Marco Polo Stufano, 2000 (2000.58)
This desk embodies the Modern Gothic style prescribed by English and American design reformers beginning in the late 1860s. The firm of Kimbel & Cabus worked extensively in this style throughout the 1870s, incorporating such Gothic elements as pointed gables, trestle feet, incised linear decoration, and elaborate strap hinges into a large stock of furniture displayed in their showrooms at 7 and 9 East 20th Street in New York. No doubt much of their work was inspired by the design philosophy of British reformer Charles Locke Eastlake (18361906), who would have approved of the choice of oak, which he considered "by far the best wood to be used for both appearance and durability." Eastlake's extremely popular book on home decoration, entitled Hints on Household Taste, was published in England in 1868; the first American edition appeared in 1872 to such renown that seven additional editions were published by 1886.