We continue our alphabetical tour of the decorative arts with the kneehole desk today. This particular style of desk first appeared in England in the early 18th century. The kneehole desk is defined by its ‘kneehole’ in the centre allowing the desk’s user to comfortably sit with his or her legs underneath the writing surface. At the same time, the kneehole desk retains drawers on either side to maximise storage. Kneehole desks also often featured central cupboards behind the kneehole space for additional storage.
The George II mahogany kneehole desk pictured above is particularly interesting because its central kneehole compartment can be slid forward to turn the desk into a chest of drawers.
This exceptional and rare George II burr walnut kneehole desk is another example of the classic kneehole design. The front of the top drawer hinges open to reveal a veneered secretaire writing surface with cubbies and small drawers.
The kneehole desk is only one of many different types of desks that were popular in 18th century England. The pedestal desk, partners desk, bureau plat, and others were also commonly found in interiors of the time… but that will be the subject of a future post!