- unknown artist
Unknown artist, Lap Desk, 1700s. Wood with silver and metal inlay; 8 x 23½ x 17¼ in. Gift of the Stapleton Foundation of Latin American Colonial Art, made possible by the Renchard family, 1990.318.
This portable piece of furniture, with its ornate hardwood marquetry depicting flora, fauna, and architectural vistas, was produced by a Quito cabinetry workshop. Known as an escritorio (writer’s chest), such boxes were used for the storage of writing materials during the viceregal period. The exterior of the lid features a cityscape vista within a floral frame; the interior of the lid is decorated with two vases full of flowers, with several animals including a llama, a lion, and two dogs. The technique of marquetry was first introduced to Spain from the Muslim world during the Middle Ages and has flourished there, especially in Southern Spain, until the present day. The technique became prevalent throughout the Spanish Americas with significant centers of production in Puebla, Oaxaca, Lima and Quito. The interior hardware, including the lockplate, and the silver drawer pulls, are all original.
-- Michael A. Brown, 2013