Desk

Maker: Kimbel and Cabus (1862–1882)

Date: ca.1877

Geography: Made in New York, New York, United States

Culture: American

Medium: Oak, nickel-plated brass and iron hardware

Dimensions: 55 1/8 x 39 1/4 x 20 1/2 in. (140 x 99.7 x 52.1 cm)

Classification: Furniture

Credit Line: Purchase, Barrie A. and Deedee Wigmore Foundation Gift, in honor of John Nally and Marco Polo Stufano, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.58

Description

This desk embodies the Modern Gothic style prescribed by English and American design reformers beginning in the late 1860s. The firm of A. Kimbel & J. Cabus worked extensively in this mode 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 Twentieth Street. No doubt much of their work was inspired by the design philosophy of Charles Locke Eastlake (1836–1906), 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." Mounted on a trestle base with stiff, diagonal front legs and mortise-and-tenon construction, it bears medieval-style ornamentation of shallow incising, nickel-plated hardware, carved linen-fold panels, and chamfered edges. The projecting shelf opens to become the writing surface, which retains its original red baize and gold-stamped red leather trim, and the pitched roof above the projecting central cabinet lifts up to reveal a small storage space.

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