Lady's writing desk
On View In:
Gallery 334
Artist:   Mervyn E. Macartney
W. Hall
Kenton & Co.  
Title:   Lady's writing desk  
Date:   1891  
Medium:   Mahogany, macassar ebony, ivory, brass  
Dimensions:   37 3/4 x 14 1/16 x 19 3/8 in. (95.89 x 35.72 x 49.21 cm) (closed)  
Credit Line:   The Robert J. Ulrich Works of Art Purchase Fund  
Location:   Gallery 334  

This desk's coquettish form, petite proportions, and exotic materials were inspired by a type of 18th century French writing desk known as bonheur du jour. The term means "happiness of the day," suggesting the intense pleasure these desks provided Europe's fashionable elite. This desk bears three stamps: "Kenton and Co Ld," for the firm that produced it; "W.Hall," for the man who actually crafted it, and "MEC," for Mervyn Macartney, the designer. Macartney was one of four prominent architects and designers who founded Kenton & Co. The two Arts and Crafts exhibitions Kenton organized in 1891 and 1892 substantially broadened its influence. Macartney included this desk in the first exhibition, where the press praised its "elegance of line and solid workmanship" and declared it "exquisite in every respect."

Name:   Macartney, Mervyn E.  
Role:   Designer  
Nationality:   English  
Life Dates:   English, 1853-1932  
Name:   Hall, W.  
Role:   Maker  
Nationality:   English  
Life Dates:   English  
Name:   Kenton & Co.  
Role:   Manufacturer  
Nationality:   London  
Life Dates:   London, 1890-1892  

Object Description  
Inscriptions:   Stamp At interior top back edge, stamped: [W. HALL KENTON & CO. LD. MEM]  
Classification:   Furniture  
Physical Description:   small console of dark wood exterior; thin four-sided legs on splaying feet; top opens and front unfolds forward to writing surface; eight drawers and two cubbyholes  
Creation Place:   , England, , ,  
Accession #:   2003.166a-i  
Owner:   The Minneapolis Institute of Arts