Walnut, with brass escutcheons and handles, iron-mounted brass castors and baize writing surface
English, circa 1730–40
[…]; Sir Isidore Spielmann, FSA (1854–1925), and by descent
The present desk is a robust variant of a familiar form prevalent during the first three decades of the eighteenth century. Such pieces, usually with one or two drawers beneath the fall front writing surface, are most frequently found raised on a separate stand; see, for example, Ralph Edwards, The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1964, 1975 edn, p. 75, figs 8–11.
In the absence of any early provenance or directly comparable examples, one can only speculate about this desk’s original use. That it is made as a single piece with heavy, serviceable castors and designed to be seen in the round, suggests that it would have been regularly moved within its original setting. Perhaps it was used by a clerk in a solicitor’s office or in the university rooms of a privileged student.
Spielmann’s antiquarian interiors at 56 Westbourne Terrace included a dining room with wooden-panelled walls lined with leather, against which part of his collection of Delftware was displayed. Amongst many public roles, he was a Member of Advisory Council, Victoria and Albert Museum; Commissioner for Art, Franco- British Exhibition, 1908; Member of Royal Commission for the Brussels International Exhibition, 1910, and Turin International Exhibition, 1911; and Director, Exhibition of British Arts and Crafts, Louvre, Paris, 1914. In 1903 he was a co-founder, with the 26th Earl of Crawford and Sir Robert Witt, of the National Art Collections Fund (now Art Fund).