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'The Kedleston Library Desk'

James Gravenor (fl.1741-1768)

Category

Furniture

Date

1764

Materials

Mahogany, oak, leather and brass

Measurements

79.0 x 217.0 x 135.0 cm

Place of origin

Kedleston Hall

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Collection

Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire (Accredited Museum)

NT 108613

Caption

This mahogany writing table with no less than 48 drawers contains many surprises such as hidden draws and folding lecterns.

Summary

A mahogany pedestal library desk, made by James Gravenor (fl.1741-1768) in 1764 for the Library at Kedleston, from a design by Robert Adam, Architect and designer (1728 -1792). The leather inset rectangular top with moulded edge and dentil band above a front with a configuration of twenty one true and false drawers, the kneehole with a further drawer faced as a floral and scroll carved apron and with a pair of cupboard doors to the recess. The left side has a pair of frieze drawers both fitted with adjustable book rests, one also fitted with a pair of stationary drawers the other fitted with a single larger drawer, below is a column of four central drawers, one running the entire length of the desk. The right side has and arrangement of seven true and false drawers, the back has the same configuration of true and false drawers as the front. The pedestals raised on plinth bases, brass cast handles.

Full description

Little is known of James Gravenor the cabinet maker but he was a craftsman of considerable talent. Known solely in connection with his work at Kedleston for Nathaniel Curzon. He also carved columns, door cases and mirror frames for the Drawing Room and pier glasses with oak leafed frames and ornamental detail for an organ case for the Music Room. He is also responsible for the fine palm tree bed for the State Bedroom on the west front which he completed in 1768. The posts are carved to resemble the trunks of palms with gilt leaves. The same theme is repeated in a pair of palm tree candlestands for a dressing table, some chairs and two pier glasses in the same room and a large palm tree mirror in the Dressing Room. It is also possible that he was responsible for the bookcases in the library, also designed by Adam. ... See: Connoisseur , July 1978, pp. 203–04 and 207; Country Life, 2 February 1978, p. 264 and 9 February 1978. James Weedon (May 2018)

Provenance

Made by James Gravenor (fl.1741-1768) in 1764 for the Library at Kedleston, from a design by Robert Adam, Architect and designer (1728 -1792). Purchased in 1987 by the National Heritage Memorial Fund from Francis Curzon, 3rd Viscount Scarsdale (1924-2000). On loan to the National Trust from the National Heritage Memorial Fund 1987-1988. Purchased by the National Trust in 1988 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Makers and roles

James Gravenor (fl.1741-1768), cabinet maker Robert Adam (Kirkcaldy 1728 - London 1792), designer

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