THE SUTTON HALL SECRÉTAIRE BOOKCASE
An important late 18th century Adam period carved mahogany secrétaire bookcase in the manner of Thomas Chippendale, having an open scrolled dentil moulded pediment with finely carved flaming urn finial on a platform with carved recessed bell and a fluted frieze with carved paterae roundels, above two glazed doors with gothic tracery applied with carved husk swags suspended on rings, anthemion finials and scrolled tracery enclosing three adjustable shelves. The lower part with leather lined secrétaire fall enclosing a bank of nine drawers with original brass Dutch axe handles and five pigeon-holes, above three graduated drawers all retaining the original ornate brass swan-neck handles; on a moulded plinth base terminating in shaped ogee bracket feet.
Note: This extraordinary secrétaire bookcase undoubtedly came from one of the leading workshops in 18th century England. It has features in common with pieces by Chippendale (in particular the superior quality of the carving and style of the paterae, relating to paterae on a linen press at Harewood House in Yorkshire), while the execution of the pediment, the use of husk swags and the shape of the bracket feet relate to drawings by Mayhew and Ince. The Yorkshire cabinet-makers Wright and Elwick were also capable of producing a piece of this quality, leaving a firm attribution open.
English, circa 1775
Height: 8 ft 5 ½ in; 258 cm
Width: 3 ft 4 ¾ in; 103.5 cm
Depth: 1 ft 10 in; 56 cm
Sutton Hall, Yorkshire.
Thomas Chippendale, ‘The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker's Director’, 3rd edition, 1762, pl. CVIII.
William Ince and John Mayhew, ‘The Universal System for Household Furniture’, 1762, pl. XVIII.
Christopher Gilbert, ‘The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale’, 1978, vol.2, p. 139, illus. 249; p.146, illus. 263; p. 235, illus. 430.
Country Life, 29 January 1959, 'Sutton Hall, Yorkshire I', fig 6.