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Carved Ebony Davenport

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Although first impressions suggest this to be a a davenport desk desk from Ceylon, the carving and secondary woods indicate Batavia, Indonesia, to be a much more likely origin. 

Jan Veenendaal in his catalogue 'Asian Art and Dutch Taste' tells how both Sri Lankan and Chinese furniture makers were bought together at workshops in Batavia making an attribution of origin for some of this furniture a little less than obvious. However, the ebony used for this desk is not the same as found in Ceylon, being of a less uniform black, the drawer linings are made from a teak-like timber, (there are any number of different woods that this might be!) and in particular, the beautiful panel of 'Amboyna burl', used as a foil behind the front carved and fretted panels, point very surely at Batavia.  

This desk owes its name to a Captain Davenport who was the first to commission the design, from Gillows of Lancaster, near the end of the 18th century. In this way it could also be considered a Campaign desk though there are no records indicating if Captain Davenport was in the British Army or the Royal Navy.  

Our desk is typical of the type during this earlier period with a leather-lined, inclined  lifting desktop, within are small drawers and pigeon holes. To either side is a pull-out flap, again lined with a plum coloured grained leather, and to the right hand side four graduated drawers running the full width of the pedestal. The top section pulls forward when being sat at for writing and a small drawer in this section pulls out and folds round, made for holding pens and ink pots.

The drawers to the left hand side, line carved to match those on the right hand side, are false. The back panel is plain; the front profusely carved and fretted, backed with a panel of tightly burled Amboyna.

w:22 in x d:22 in x h:35.75 in 

Batavia, Indonesia, circa 1840.


Item Code: 2783

£ 8500

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