Miniature Dutch Table Desk
Medieval illustrations include the first depictions of desks; large furniture pieces made specifically for reading and writing. As books became more plentiful, and much smaller, with the introduction of the printing press in the 15th century, desks also underwent a transformation. Portable variations of the desk were created, primarily for the use of gentlemen on the go. These smaller desks could fit on a lap, or table, and featured a top section that closed securely to hide everything inside. A table desk would travel with its owner, containing important papers, correspondence, and ongoing projects. More than just a writing surface, these desks also contained multiple smaller drawers and “pigeon holes,” to accommodate any necessary writing utensils or stationary. This miniature Dutch table desk dates to the early 18th century, and is carved from burled walnut, an abnormal type of walnut wood that is highly sought after by furniture makers due to its distinctive pattern. The desk can be closed up entirely and locked. When opened, the desk features a flat writing surface and numerous storage compartments. This table desk exemplifies very high quality craftsmanship, and is believed to most likely be an exam piece done by a master carpenter. An exquisite example of 18th-century Dutch woodworking, this miniature Dutch table desk would be a unique addition to display in any study, home office, or library.
At this time in the Netherlands, there was a period of societal calm between various wars and political upheavals. The educated classes widely accepted the principles of the Enlightenment, an intellectual and philosophical movement that swept through Europe from 1685 to 1815. Uniquely, the Dutch largely ignored Enlightenment attitudes that discouraged religion – where instead, a period of less religious hostility began.