Mechanical desk by Giovanni Socchi, early 19th Century

Mechanical desk by Giovanni Socchi, early 19th Century
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This rare Empire style mechanical desk by the Italian cabinet maker Giovanni Socchi sits within the ornate alcove of the Dressing Room at Lydiard Park. It is inlaid with ebony wood and ormolu decoration and is one of only five known to exist in the world and the only one in the UK.

When the front of the oval table is pulled out a chair is revealed. The action simultaneously separates the table top, allowing the desk to raise.

Though not original to the house, the desk was part of the Ernest Cook bequeath to the nation in 1955 which saw the distribution of his fine antique collection among a number of key English historic properties and museums open to the public . At the time the desk was lacquered to resemble mahogany and over the years the mechanism ceased. The desk was was repaired and restored to its original form in the 1990's, with support from the Earnest Cook Trust.

The four other desks include two in the Pitti Palace in Florence, one in the former home of Empress Josephine at Malmaison in Paris and the other in a private collection in New York.

Giovanni Socchi
Dressing Room, Lydiard House
Swindon Borough Council
Lydiard House
Last updated on:
Wednesday 8th September 2021

Items of Interest

Treasure Forever - The Socchi Desk, by Sarah Finch-Crisp
Treasure Forever - The Socchi Desk, by Sarah Finch-Crisp

The article traces the history of the Socchi desk...