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Desk

On view

Desk

Artist: A. Kimbel & J. Cabus (active New York, New York, 1862-1882)

Date: 1876
Medium: Ebonized cherry, yellow-poplar, probably gilded copper, paper, modern leather writing surface
Dimensions:
Overall: 64 1/2 x 45 1/2 x 16 5/8in. (163.8 x 115.6 x 42.2cm)
Credit Line: Museum Purchase
Object number: 92.34
Label Text
A. Kimbel and J. Cabus operated a furniture manufactory and offered interior design products at their New York City business. Numerous surviving pieces of furniture, illustrated bills-of-sale and trade cards, and a fully illustrated 1870s catalog have helped researchers document the workings of the firm and the imaginative designs they used.

Today, the Kimbel and Cabus firm is recognized for the Modern Gothic-style furniture they manufactured. The Modern Gothic style, one of the artistic outgrowths of the Aesthetic movement, was popularized by reform authors such as Charles Locke Eastlake in his seminal book Hints on Household Taste (1868). This desk is characterized by a basic rectilinear outline, elaborate strap hinges, and simple ornamentation of incised lines and decorative paper inserts.

ATD

This desk articulates the Modern Gothic style as interpreted by the firm of Kimbel and Cabus. Big, bold, and black, the desk conveys the essential tenets of design reform in its rectilinear compositions, its allusions to "honest" construction (spindle gallery, open shelves, and trestle feet), and its recalling of medieval designs with strapwork hinges. The black finish, which imitates Japanese lacquerware, reflects the 1870s vogue for the arts of Japan. Simple incising and low-relief carving subtly enhance the surface of the desk. Paper decorations incorporating Modern Gothic motifs are applied to the cupboard doors and fall front.

ATD