Designer: Mervyn Macartney (British, London, 1853–1932)

Manufacturer: W. Hall for Kenton and Co. (London, 1890–1892)

Maker: For the firm of Kenton & Co., London

Date: 1891

Culture: British

Medium: Mahogany veneered on the exterior with Macassar ebony, silver plated brass knobs, silver molding

Dimensions: H. 38 x W. 29 1/2 x L. 14 in. (96.5 x 74.9 x 35.5 cm)

Classification: Woodwork-Furniture

Credit Line: Purchase, The James Parker Charitable Foundation Gift, 2006

Accession Number: 2006.4


In a review of an Arts and Crafts exhibition at the New Gallery in London in 1893, The Cabinet Maker and Art Furnisher called this desk (or the nearly identical one now in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts) "quite a gem. Original in design, dressed up with lovely wood, and perfectly made. . ., it is one of the few miniature woodwork triumphs of the exhibition. Hitherto the French had a monopoly in dainty things of this sort. The buyer who has the means need not now go to Paris to satisfy the taste of his lady-love." Indeed, the desk is a perfect expression of the objectives of the short-lived London firm of Kenton & Co.: to supply furniture of good design and the best workmanship. This elegant piece, designed by Mervyn Macartney, one of four architects who founded Kenton & Co. in 1890, is reminiscent of eighteenth-century French furniture, but the exquisite Macassar ebony veneer also foreshadows the work of Art Deco artist émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (1879–1933).