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Writing desk with upper cabinet

Scrivania con alzata

Writing desk with upper cabinet
Milan, first half of the 18th century
Carved walnut partially veneered in olive wood and walnut burl; traces of ebonizing.

It measures :
66.53 in x 48.42 in x 23.22 in (169 x 123 x 59 cm)

State of conservation:
very good

The desk is composed of two elements, with the markedly architectural upper part representing its most distinct characteristic. The curving façade is broken up by vertical pilaster strips consisting of olive burl with horizontal grain in carved frames. The sophisticated apparatus is crowned with three unusual and highly elaborate elements designed as bases to allow objects such as vases to be set atop the desk.

The angular lower part, with fold-down and slide out writing surfaces, constitutes the desk proper and is similar to many other exemplars dating to the 17th and early 18th centuries. However, its four high legs decorated with carved elements and frames around veneered parts represent a relative rarity. They are joined below by an atypical crosspiece that mimics the design of wrought metal, with two bands appearing to bind together the two main contoured members.

Both the iron keys and the embossed paper lining are original.
The exclusivity of the model and its excellent craftsmanship, far superior to the norm, lead us to suppose that a talented designer contributed to the execution of the work, and that it was crafted in the area of Milan, where the most refined and demanding patrons of the time were found.

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