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Pedestal desk, English, unknown maker, early nineteenth century, mahogany with brass fittings. ©Sir John Soane's Museum, London. Photograph: Hugh Kelly.
  • image Image 1 for XF91
  • image Image 2 for XF91

Pedestal desk, English, unknown maker, early nineteenth century, mahogany with brass fittings

Height: 78.5cm
Width: 153.5cm
Depth: 53cm

Museum number: XF91

Curatorial note

With knee-hole flanked by two cupboards; each cupboard contains three drawers with brass drop handles; moulded plinth to each cupboard; the doors have simple flush reed mouldings which are repeated round the drawers; each cupboard door has a diamond-shaped keyhole escutcheon; there are further reed mouldings beneath the doors and around the inside of the kneehole; the outer sides of the desk are unvarnished, with missing mouldings. The three drawers in the desk top each have a pair of turned wooden knobs which may be later replacements; these drawers have oval brass keyhole escutcheons.

This desk is described in the Furniture and Fittings inventory as ‘A Mahogany Library Table 5’ 1” long by 1’ 9” with 4 drawers in each of the two pedestals and one in centre, making 9 in all’. It is a slightly puzzling description since the desk has eleven drawers, not nine, and it does not mention the pedestal cupboard doors. However, the dimensions given are correct and the desk today appears exactly as shown in the 1834-35 view (unpublished plate for the 1835 Description 60/7); there is no other desk in the collection which could be the one depicted. The unvarnished sides are perhaps confirmation that the original position of the desk was within the window bay as shown in the view and that it may have been made for this position.1 The desk is generally well-made and has a polished back.

1 Peter Thornton considered that this was the desk from Soane’s first office at the back of No. 12, shown on the right in Figure 42, an engraved view of that Office published in 1824 and showing the room after its conversion to his first Picture Room in 1819. However, the desk is not this one – it has very different and elaborate escutcheons and no doors to the pedestals


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk