This distinguished writing-table is almost entirely faithful to Thomas Chippendale's design for a 'Writing Table'plate 54, dated 1753 in the third edition of his Gentleman And Cabinetmaker's Director. This design is conceived as a pier-table in the 'Modern' fashion, yet these minor differences reflect the emerging influence of the 'Antique' style promoted by the Rome-trained architect Robert Adam (d.1792) following his establishment of a London office in 1758. The differences are entirely relegated to the decoration; the Chippendale design has paneled, not fluted legs and the feet have scalloped instead of oval panels. The Chippendale design illustrates a divided top, presumably to be inset with tooled leather, whereas the offered lot is richly figured mahogany; the interior pull-out writing- surface forgoes the asymmetrical Rococo style handle and adjustable book-rest depicted in the design for a simpler bail handle and a sliding felt-lined rest revealing recessed pigeon-holes.
A related secretaire-cabinet attributed to Thomas Chippendale from the Property of a Private Collector and with the same pull-out writing- rest, concave sides and tapering legs ending in block feet was sold, Christie's, New York, 23 October 2002, lot 20. Another secretaire-cabinet, also with the same base form as the offered lot, was sold anonymously, Christie's, New York, 12 October 1990, lot 173.
Langley Park, ten miles east of Norwich, was bought by George Proctor (d. 1744) from the Berney family in 1742. Proctor, a connoisseur and collector who had until then lived in Venice, employed the Norwich architect Matthew Brettingham (d. 1769), who was also patronized by the Earl of Leicester at Holkham Hall, to build him a Palladian villa on his new estates. However, Proctor died two years later, and his estates passed to his nephew William Beauchamp, later Sir William Beauchamp-Proctor, 1st Bt. (the family changed their name in 1852 to Proctor-Beauchamp). It was Beauchamp-Proctor who completed and enlarged the mansion, and who was largely responsible for building up the notable art collection at Langley. To compliment his collection of pictures by artists such as Canaletto and Poussin (some of which now reside in public collections), 'various people connected with the estate' had reported seeing Chippendale furnishing bills for the house, which could no longer be traced (O. Bracket, 'Langley Hall' Country Life, 15 October 1927, pp. 527). Furniture from Langley Park was sold by Sir Christoper Proctor-Beauchamp, Bt., Christie's, London, 6 July 1995, lots 100-103, which comprised an impressive pair of Mid-Georgian side tables and three pairs of armchairs from the Dining Room. A set of four George III white-painted and parcel-gilt open-armchairs, possibly by Thomas Chippendale and supplied to Sir Thomas Beauchamp-Proctor, Bt. for Langley Park was sold anonymously, Christie's, New York, 25 April 2008, lot 48.