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Writing desk

Writing desk

  • Place of origin:

    England (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1860 (made)

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This writing desk is of a type known as a bonheur-du-jour. Bonheur-du-jours were made in Paris from the 1760s. They are characterised by the combination of lower case with writing surface, and a smaller upper case enclosing drawers. Bonheur-du-jours mounted with porcelain plaques were popular in Paris in 1760s and 1770s.

This desk and its pair were made in the mid-19th century, probably in England. Their use of an 18th-century model demonstrates the continued fashion for Louis XVI style furniture in 19th-century Europe.

Physical description

Writing desk formed of two cases. The main case, which sits on four legs, is built separately from the smaller upper case. The join between the two cases is traced by a brass moulding. Brass mouldings also outline the sides and back of the lower case, and the back of the upper case.

Both cases are mounted with soft-paste porcelain plaques, painted with baskets of flowers inside turquoise and gold borders. A leather-covered writing flap folds out from the top of the lower case. Both cases are fitted with two drawers - on the upper case these are separated by a central compartment with door.

The case is of oak, veneered on all sides in sycamore. The top edges of the drawers and central compartment are veneered with purplewood. A marble slab sits on top of the upper case, inside a brass gallery.

Place of Origin

England (probably, made)


1860 (made)

Object history note

This desk was given to the South Kensington Museum in 1882 as part of the John Jones bequest. John Jones was a military tailor who amassed a large collection of French 18th-century decorative and fine arts. Alongside important 18th-century objects, Jones also owned a number of 19th-century pieces made in an 18th-century style.

Descriptive line

Writing desk mounted with porcelain plaques. One of a pair, probably English, Louis XVI style


Oak; Sycamore; Purplewood; Brass; Porcelain; Marble


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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