Spanish Iron Mounted Walnut, Painted, Parcel Gilt and Bone Mounted Vargueno on Stand
In two parts, the upper section with hasp lock and a fall front faced with red velvet backed panels, opening to an interior fitted with an arrangement of colonnaded drawers and doors mounted with shell-form pulls, three deep drawers with secret drawers at the back, the lower section, possibly later, with pull out mask fronted fall front supports, two drawers above two cupboard doors, all with geometric molded panels, raised on bun feet. Height 61 1/4 inches (1.55 m), width 43 1/2 inches (1.10 m), depth 17 inches (43.2 cm).
The form of the Spanish travelling writing cabinet on stand, called a vargueno or escritorio, was first made in the 16th century, possibly originating in Salamanca, its decoration with a strong Moorish influence; see Maria Paz Aguilo Alonso, El Mueble en Espana XVI-XVII, Madrid, 1993, 'ESCRITORIOS DE SALAMANCA', pp. 286-293, 'D.3 TIPO C, for an example, circa 1630, with a similar drawer and door arrangement, p. 290, fig. 217. However, by the 17th century, Western design is more evident, as seen in the present vargueno, with its more classically derived interior architectural features, including columns and broken pediments, yet still retaining Moorish design antecedents.
'Varguenos have the simplicity, rigid regularity, and austere dignity that have always appealed to Spanish taste in furniture. . . When open, the effect is one of flamboyant splendor . . . like Moorish artesonados . . .'; see Grace Hardendorff Burr, former Curator of Furniture of the Hispanic Society of America, Hispanic Furniture, New York: The Archive Press, 1964, pp. 42-46. Burr, op. cit., illustrates related varguenos at the Hispanic Society, pp. 141-158, the most similar upper section being fig. 140, S44, , pp. 150-151, with double-hasped turreted lock and an arrangement of doors, drawers and secret drawers with shell pulls.
See also: Western Furniutre 1350 to the Present Day in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, C. Wilk, ed., New York: Cross River Press, pp. 54-55, figs. 1-2
Cf. related varguenos, one from Christie's, London, West - East - The Niall Hobhouse Collection, Christie's, London, May 22, 2008, lot 249 ($41,000), one with a provenance from the Dukes of Infantado, El Palacio del Infantado, Guadelajara, Spain, sold, Christie's, London, February 10, 2012, lot 785 ($180,000), one sold, Christie's, London, October 31, 2012, lot 56 ($34,000), and another, sold, Christie's, London, December 5, 2013, lot 86 ($37,000).
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