Header for Resources for Teachers


The Art of Many Cultures Meet in Mexico-Writing Desk

Bargueno (Writing desk)

walnut with inlaid bone
Aragon, Spain
Late sixteenth or early seventeenth century
127 x 94 z 54 cm.

Spanish drop-front desks, known today as baruenos, were the most common pieces of furniture in sixteenth- and seventeenth- century Spanish homes.


This drop-front desk was a common piece of furniture in 16th and 17th century Spanish homes and served a practical function. The small drawers and the hinged compartments were suited to storage of small treasures, documents, and writing materials and the desk could be closed with iron lockplates and carried by the handles for transport. When positioned it would rest on a base such as this trestle stand.

Technique or Process

This writing desk is decorated with bone and small strips of light wood inlaid into walnut wood.

Cultural roots - see map

The intricate design of this desk is done in a style know as mudejar. This word is used for the Moors who remained in Spain after it was reconquered by the Christians. The Islamic penchant for intricate patterning and for decorating entire surfaces is manifesed throughout the piece in the diamond, pear and triangular shspes of inlaid ivory. The arched columns, floral arrangements, and curvilinear vines reflect a more Europeon tradition

Lesson Plans
Visual Arts Lesson: Creating a decorative drawer front for combined class writing desk. Individual drawers fronts will conceal student treasures.
Extension Activities

Math: Working in scale to complete a class project

Language Arts: Writing a secret letter to someone to be hidden in the drawer.

Social Studies: Research and make a timeline of the history of Spain.

Science: Identify the types of trees that would grow in the area of Aragon in Spain. Which woods would be identified as litghwood. Were walnut trees grown in that climate or would it have been imported?


image of a line divider
Home | Handbook | Lesson Plans | Games and Activities
Exhibition | Collectors and their Collections | For Teachers | Cultural Exchange | For Families | Timeline | About this Website | Site Map
Museum of Fine Arts Houston | College of Education, UH

Graphic links to MFAH, College of Education and University of Houston

link to museum of fine arts houston link to college of education at the university of houston link to the university of Houston website
Link to home page of The Granduer of Vice Regal Mexico