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Lady's Writing Desk

Decorative Arts

On View: Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor

American interest in Japanese art and design, including bamboo furniture, was stimulated by goods exhibited by Japan at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. American furniture makers responded to this fashionable mania for all things Japanese by making furniture out of yellow-stained maple that imitated bamboo. Faux-bamboo was most often associated with bedroom furniture, and this whimsical, delicate desk was probably part of a large suite that included a bed, case pieces, chairs, and a table.

CULTURE American
MEDIUM bird's-eye maple, silvered glass, leather
  • Place Manufactured: New York, New York, United States
  • DATES late 19th century
    DIMENSIONS 69 3/4 x 27 x 18 in.  (show scale)
    MARKINGS no marks
    SIGNATURE no signature
    INSCRIPTIONS no inscriptions
    COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor
    ACCESSION NUMBER 1989.158
    CREDIT LINE Alfred T. and Caroline S. Zoebisch Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION R.J. Horner & Company (1886-1915). Lady's Writing Desk, late 19th century. bird's-eye maple, silvered glass, leather, 69 3/4 x 27 x 18 in. Brooklyn Museum, Alfred T. and Caroline S. Zoebisch Fund, 1989.158. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , CUR.1989.158.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, CUR.1989.158.jpg., 2019
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Legs, spindles and applied moldings to simulate bamboo. Raised on four legs, front feet splayed forward, joined below mid-point by double stretchers connected by three short spindles on sides and five on back, supporting a partial lower shelf. Slant-front with inset panel and wooden escutcheon above narrow drawer with two turned wooden pulls, between recessed wooden slat supports each with turned wooden pull. Super-structure with pair of narrow drawers, each with one turned wooden pull, above which is two-tiered spindled galleries with large rectangular beveled mirror at top center and an elongated beveled mirror at each side. Each tier surrounded by spindled galleries on three sides, open to front. Shelf below central mirror supported by inward-curving brackets with turned drop finials. Interior of desk fitted with new dark-red leather writing surface trimmed with tooled gold border and four small square cubbyholes at each corner against back interior. CONDITION - Very good original condition lightly cleaned and waxed.
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