What is it? Antique Italian rosewood desk on curule supports, with leather writing surface
Where it’s from: 19th-century Italy
Cocktail-party tidbit: “Curule” refers to the legs’ x-shaped, crisscrossing structure, and dates all the way back to the ancient Romans (who are said to have borrowed the idea from the ancient Egyptians). The x-shaped form originally appeared in chairs, called sella curulis, upon which Roman magistrates would sit. The wide x of the chairs’ legs were one feature: The others, low back and no arms, made the chairs uncomfortable to sit in for long periods of time, indicating that the Roman leaders should handle their business efficiently. The curule design element has endured for thousands of years, enjoying starring roles in the Italian Renaissance and 19th-century America, among other eras.
Where to use it: As a statement piece in an office or a perfect addition to the corner of a living room
Why we love it: The dealers, Fatto a Mano, refer to this desk as “the Cardinal’s Desk” because of what they found in the drawer: a beautiful tooled leather portfolio. The portfolio has a silver mount on the front with a Cardinal’s crest and the inscription “A. S. Emza Rma Card. L. Lavitrano 25-7-1937 Forio,” meaning “To Your Eminence Most Reverend Cardinal L. Lavitrano, July 25, 1937, Forio.” Cardinal Lavitrano was born in Forio on the island of Ischia, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, not far from the coast of Naples. The Cardinal served as Archbishop of Palermo during World War II. This portfolio, which contains some naïve religious artwork, seems to have been a present to the Cardinal from residents of his hometown. While this desk might not have belonged to the Cardinal, we love thinking about that possibility—a perfect reminder that antique furniture often holds fascinating mysteries.
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