this lesson, the students will be creating a decorative
drawer front concealing student treasures. This will be
accomplished by exploring the functions of a bargueno
(writing desk). The will discover how cultural influences
impact the artist's motif.
of Art: Bargueno (Writing desk)
Frame: Four to Five Classes (45 minute periods each)
students will be able to:
this writing desk and the function it served in the culture
of the time.
a separate drawer to scale and these will be assembled
into a class desk that displays each drawer. Students
will use repetitive motifs in designing their drawers.
out shapes to represent their own personal treasures and
place them behind their drawers.
and skills. Complete TEKS for
6th grade art.
2. Creative expression/performance: b. and c.
3. Historical cultural heritage: a.
Response/evaluation: a. and b.
paper to match colors of wood and designs
the Work of Art
drop-front desks, known today as barguenos, were the most
common pieces of furniture in sixteenth- and seventeenth-
century Spanish homes.
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 lock-plates and
carried by the handles for transport. When positioned
it would rest on a base such as this trestle stand.
writing desk is decorated with bone and small strips
of light wood inlaid into walnut wood.
roots - see map
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 re-conquered
by the Christians. The Islamic penchant for intricate
patterning and for decorating entire surfaces is
manifested throughout the piece in the diamond,
pear and triangular shapes of inlaid ivory. The
arched columns, floral arrangements, and curvilinear
vines reflect a more European tradition.
to image on exhibition web site - Bargueno
students a large image of the two views of the desk.
features do you notice about this desk?
these features to the desks we use at school and
home. How are the similar? How are they different?
the function of the various parts of the desk.
would be put in the drawers and hinged compartments?
type of documents would one store in a bargueno such
would you want locks on the compartments?
how culture influences art.
influences your design choices? What about culture?
cultural influence might have played a role in the
design of this desk?
the concept of motif and the relevance of the motifs of
this piece to the history of that time.
is a motif?
patterns or decorations do you notice in the desk?
these patterns influenced by a specific culture of
that time period?
Students will create individual drawer designs to scale
so that they can be fitted into a completed class writing
desk for display. The work will be done in construction
paper using colors similar to those used in this desk
to simulate the walnut, lightwood and ivory.
Students will select and illustrate motifs appropriate
for the student, school or community and use repetition
of motif to complete their drawers.
finished the individual drawers will be fitted together
on a display board in a configuration similar to the
original desk. The desk from the Franz Mayer show has
ten drawers so students will need to design a desk front
to accommodate the number of drawers completed in the
class or may wish to have two separate desks with 10
- 12 drawers in each. A base should be cut of black
paper and fitted under the desk as in the original work
Students' drawer shapes will be attached to the display
only at the sides and bottom leaving the top open. Students
will draw or cut small replicas of things that they
treasure or write secret messages and slip them into
their own compartments.
students will compare their product with the desk from
motif did you use in creating your drawer?
Why did you choose this particular motif?
motif did the designer of the Writing Desk use?
What do you think influenced the artist's choice?
do motifs represent the current trends of the time
will discuss their work of art and how they met the
lesson objectives. Students could write about the completed
class desk and how it compares with the desk from the
Franz Mayer exhibit.
finished desk should show uniformity of design with
each student using repetition of motif and colors as
seen in the original work of art and the drawers should
be cut to scale so that they fit together neatly for
display. See assessment
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 lightwood? Were walnut trees grown in
that climate or would it have been imported?