Carlton Hobbs LLC, the New York based international antiques dealer today announced it discovered and acquired a Highly Important Marquetry Escritorio, made in Villa Alta, Oaxaca, in the second half of the 17th century.
“We bought the piece based on the astonishing quality of its engraved marquetry and its wonderful pristine condition. As we had owned other important Mexican pieces in the past I suspected there was a strong possibility of this origin. But we were thrilled when Rosa Dopazo Duran, curator of the Franz Mayer Museum, pronounced it to be ‘unique’,” Carlton Hobbs said.
The piece is not only of a very unusually large scale but its highly intricate decoration provides proof of its origin. The piece is profusely inlaid with extraordinary topographical depictions of the town of San Ildefonso and its environs. It exhibits details, which offer insight into both the type of work being produced in Viceregal Mexico and the geographic region responsible for such production.
The beautifully detailed interior of the piece is a riot of Mannerist engraved decorative detail and each of the four corner drawers is designed with an allegory of the four seasons, a recurring theme in New Spain, while the center drawer is set with a representation of St. Ferdinand III, a 13th century king of Castile who was later canonized. The inside face of the fall depicts allegories of the four elements- air, water, earth, and fire- taken from European engravings.
“We have a long track record of seeking out highly unusual pieces in terms of their design, the quality of their craftsmanship and the materials used. In Mexican furniture I particularly love the dazzling results created by the blend of techniques imported from Europe with local design influences and materials. In this case Nuremberg marquetry effects were executed by means of etching into the surface of the woods and filling the lines with zumac, a local resin probably blackened with the use of burnt goat hair,” Carlton Hobbs said.