AN HISPANO-MORESQUE BONE AND HARDWOOD-INLAID VARGUENO WITH SUPPORTING DESK.
Post-Nasrid Spain, early 19th century.
A triumph of mother of pearl, bone and ivory marquetry work on a hardwood front-drop rectangular cabinet, the key opening a frontal and two lateral panels, worked in an architectural style to imitate Nasrid buildings, the interior inspired by the Sala de los Reyes at the Alhambra Palace in Granada with intricately pierced and carved polylobed arches, Moorish star-shaped and geometric wall panels and exquisite calligraphic bands, the sides carved with Nasrid dynasty’s mottos and thick interlocking vegetal tendrils, the top inlaid with bone tesserae in a fish scale pattern, the exterior further embellished with fine marquetry work of stars, geometric motifs, decorative bands and calligraphy, inclusive of several secret drawers and compartments and its supporting desk.
Cabinet: 38cm x 38.5cm x 27cm.
Base: 45.5cm x 31cm x 33cm.
Provenance: Purchased by the present owner in the UK art market, April 1990.
Footnotes: According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, vargueno (Sp. bargueño), is a wooden cabinet of mixed Spanish and Oriental origin that first appeared in Europe in the late Middle Ages and became a common article of furniture in the Spanish colonial empire from the late 16th century onward. In the 19th century, with the dawn of Orientalism and the establishment of a middle class lured by Eastern-inspired productions, these cabinets became increasingly popular both in Europe and in the United States, where they were praised and collected as superior examples of Hispano-Moresque woodwork. Two larger but stylistically similar varguenos have successfully sold at Christie’s, 8 October 2015, Lot 26 and 26 October 2017, Lot 68.