Royal Italian Writing Desk and Armchair

  • One of the finest writing tables of the 19th century, this desk was made for King Carlo Alberto
  • The writing table and its matching armchair are rife with secret drawers and compartments
  • Striking in both aesthetic and technical innovation, the desk is an example of royal luxury
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-5856

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This Italian carved mahogany writing table is said to have been crafted specifically for use by King Carlo Alberto (Charles Albert of Sardinia, 1798-1849). Both beautiful and functional, the desk and armchair feature complex woodwork with elaborate artistic details. The inlaid and carved wood features foliate swags, scrollwork and lion’s masks while lion’s paws decorate the bottom. No section of the set goes undecorated as carvings and inlaid wood sprawl the entire piece. 

Notably, this writing table and its matching armchair are rife with secret drawers and compartments. Cleverly concealed buttons and levers open secret drawers and panels, revealing storage spaces within the rails of the chair seat, center square of the desk, frieze, corners, carved lion’s heads and throughout the base. A writing slide pulls out from above the center drawer on one side of the desk, while the opposite side is fitted with hidden architectural interiors, each brimming with secret compartments. One of the finest hand-crafted writing tables of the 19th century, the desk is marked by remarkable design and ingenuity.

The mysterious King Carlo Alberto, whose political actions ranged from revolutionary to absolutionist, was as complex as his intriguing desk. He forged many political alliances, meaning there was never a shortage of secret correspondence and planning to be stored. Alberto was responsible for leading his country to the First War of Independence (1848-1849) and is known for guiding Italy through its first steps toward eventual unification. After being defeated in a battle against absolutist Austria in 1849 at Novara, the King abdicated in favor of his son, Victor Emmanuel II. He then left for exile in Oporto, Portugal, where he died in the same year.

Circa 1840 

Desk: 54 1/2” wide x 33” high x 32 3/4” deep
Chair: 23” wide x 36 3/8” high 
Royal Italian Writing Desk and Armchair
Period: 19th Century
Origin: Italy
Type: Desk/Writing Tables
Depth: 33.0 Inches
Width: 54.5 Inches
Height: 32.75 Inches
Royal Italian Writing Desk and Armchair
Secret Compartments in Furniture

Above: A rare 19th century Italian desk, also known as King Carlo Alberto's desk, with several secret compartments.   These days most people opt to store their cash and most prized valuables in banks or safety-deposit ...

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