AN ANGLO-INDIAN ENGRAVED IVORY AND TORTOISESHELL MINIATURE KNEEHOLE DESK**
Notice Regarding the Sale of Ivory and Tortoiseshe… Read more
AN ANGLO-INDIAN ENGRAVED IVORY AND TORTOISESHELL MINIATURE KNEEHOLE DESK**

VIZIGAPATAM, LATE 18TH CENTURY

Details
AN ANGLO-INDIAN ENGRAVED IVORY AND TORTOISESHELL MINIATURE KNEEHOLE DESK**
Vizigapatam, late 18th century
The rectangular top with central lozenge reserve overhanging a long frieze drawer, the kneehole with four sandlewood-lined drawers and two pigeonholes flanked by a removable panel enclosing four further drawers and two pigeonholes, each side similarly with a lozenge reserve, on bracket feet, with scrolling foliate-engraved borders and moldings overall, with the remnants of a printed BADA label to the underside
17in. (43cm.) high, 16¾in. (42.5cm.) wide, 8¾in. (22cm.) deep
Special notice

Notice Regarding the Sale of Ivory and Tortoiseshell Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing ivory or tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.

Lot Essay

This miniature desk, designed in the distinctive English manner of the 1720s and decorated with engraved scrolling floral vines, is part of a group of exotic ivory-veneered furniture probably executed under the direction of the Dutch and English East India Companies at Vizagapatam, a port on the Coromandel Coast in southern India, in the second half of the 18th century. Two miniature cabinets of circa 1770 brought to England by Alexander Wynch, Governor of Fort St. George from 1773 to 1775 and now in the Royal Collection display similar decoration (one illustrated in J. Harris et al, Buckingham Palace and Its Treasures, New York, 1968, p.126). A second miniature kneehole desk with blank ivory panels sold in these Rooms, 30 January 1993, lot 138 ($24,200), making for a strong comparison in form and in the similarly engraved ivory borders.

By the 1760s, Vizigapatam artisans were regularly decorating such miniature furniture with engraved architectural scenes or more entertaining vignettes based loosely on European print sources. This type of decoration can be seen in miniature bureau-cabinet of circa 1780-90 in the Peabody Essex Museum (A. Jaffer, Furniture from British Indian and Ceylon, 2001, cat. no. 46, pp. 200-203 and also in 'Art & the East India Trade', Exhibition Catalogue, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1970, fig. 21). Other examples include one in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, of similar date (illustrated in Jaffer, op. cit., fig. 93, p. 202).

While the decoration is representative of many objects made at the time, the use of tortoiseshell panels points to a distinct sub-group. Perhaps the most pertinent related example is a table cabinet dated to the late 18th century with tortoiseshell-veneered reserves to each drawer front and panel sold Christie's London, 27 June 1983, lot 62A.
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