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: Overall: 38 × 29 1/4 × 14 in. (96.5 × 74.3 × 35.6 cm)

Classification: Woodwork-Furniture

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

Accession Number: 2006.4


When shown in an 1893 Arts and Crafts Exhibition at the New Gallery, London, this desk, or a nearly identical one now in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, was favorably commented on in The Cabinet Maker and Art Furnisher: "An escritoire by Mr. Mervyn Macartney….is quite a gem. Original in design, dressed up with lovely wood, and perfectly made by Mr. J. Hall, it is one of the few miniature woodwork triumphs of the exhibition. Hitherto the French have 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." This comment stressed precisely the objectives of the short-lived firm: to supply furniture of good design and the best workmanship, which are both admirably expressed in this piece. Designed by Macartney, one of four architects who founded Kenton & Co. in 1890, the desk is reminiscent of eighteenth-century French furniture in its elegance while its exquisite use of Macassar ebony veneer foreshadows work of the Art Deco artist Emile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1920).