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A GEORGE III MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT SECRETAIRE CABINET
A GEORGE III MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT SECRETAIRE CABINET
A GEORGE III MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT SECRETAIRE CABINET
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A GEORGE III MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT SECRETAIRE CABINET
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A GEORGE III MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT SECRETAIRE CABINET

POSSIBLY BY WRIGHT AND ELWICK, AFTER DESIGNS BY THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, CIRCA 1765

Details
A GEORGE III MAHOGANY BREAKFRONT SECRETAIRE CABINET
POSSIBLY BY WRIGHT AND ELWICK, AFTER DESIGNS BY THOMAS CHIPPENDALE, CIRCA 1765
With pierced foliate swan's neck cresting above a pair of glazed doors enclosing adjustable shelves flanked by recessed wings with seven graduated drawers, the base with central secretaire drawer fitted with a leather-lined writing surface and various small drawers, above paneled cupboard doors enclosing three linen slides and flanked by three drawers, with inventory label inscribed D.R. 51.1069 and 20, metalwork associated, the upper section probably originally conceived without handles
95 in. (241 cm.) high, 68 ½ in. (174 cm.) wide, 21 ½ in. (55 cm.) deep
Provenance
Sir Walter John Trevelyan (1797-1879), Nettlecombe Court, Somerset,
Thence by descent to Mrs. J.A. Wolseley at Nettlecombe Court.
Mrs. J.A. Wolseley, Nettlecombe Court; Christie's, London, 12 December 1957, lot 72.
Acquired from Needham's Antiques, New York, October 1959.
Literature
F. Davis, A Picture History Furniture, London, 1962, fig. 317.
Special Notice

This Lot is transferred to Christie’s Redstone Post-Sale Facility in Long Island City after 5.00 pm on the last day of the sale. They will be available at Redstone on the following Monday. Property may be transferred at Christie’s discretion following the sale and we advise that you contact Purchaser Payments on +1 212 636 2495 to confirm your property’s location at any given time.
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is a lot where Christie’s holds a direct financial guarantee interest.

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Lot Essay

This winged mahogany secretaire-cabinet is possibly by the Wakefield firm of Wright and Elwick, the pre-eminent cabinet-maker in Yorkshire during the second half of the 18th century. The firm was undoubtedly inspired by designs in Chippendale’s Director, and their Northern commissions, which included Burton Constable. Temple Newsom and Kilnwick Hall, neighbored those of Chippendale at Harewood House, Nostell Priory and Newby Hall, Yorkshire. Wright and Elwick’s most celebrated oeuvre was that undertaken for Charles, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (d. 1783) for Wentworth Woodhouse (South Yorkshire), much of which was dispersed in two sales held by Christie's in July 1948 and again fifty years later in July 1998. Payments made by Lord Rockingham to Wright and Elwick span from 1748 to 1784, indicating a long and lasting relationship between the two parties. The Wentworth sale, Christie’s, London, 8 July 1998, included the celebrated Marchioness of Rockingham’s Cabinet (lot 35), and a George II sabicu commode (lot 69) and a George II mahogany and parcel-gilt dressing-table cabinet (lot 70). The latter two demonstrate that Wright and Elwick were influenced by Chippendale’s designs but customized their work with the addition of idiosyncratic elements. Thus, the Wentworth commode and dressing-table cabinet are virtually identical to examples by Chippendale at Nostell Priory but in the case of the last feature additional foliate and gadroon carving.
Interestingly, and despite the firm’s Wakefield antecedents, Richard Wright (1745-1771) was initially in London, and may have worked with the cabinet-maker and upholder, Paul Saunders (1722-1771), also a follower of Chippendale, as a director of ‘The Royal Tapestry Manufactury, Soho Square’. The proximity of Soho Square to Chippendale’s workshop in St. Martin’s Lane further suggests that Saunders, Wright and Chippendale were acquainted with each other’s work.
The design for the present secretaire-cabinet is undoubtedly inspired by designs for Library bookcases in Chippendale’s Director (see 1st edition, 1754, plate LXIX; 3rd edition, 1763, plate XCV). In 1760, he created a preparatory drawing for a related bookcase, featured in Sir William Chamber’s proposal for a study at Pembroke House, London; a pair of these bookcases was subsequently supplied to Henry Herbert, 10th Earl of Pembroke (1734-94) between circa 1760-2, now at the Pembroke country seat, Wilton House, Salisbury (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, figs. 68, 69). Mayhew and Ince, another contemporaneous firm, also included a design for a ‘Gentlemans Repository’, with the option to have flanking drawers to the central glazed breakfront (The Universal System of Household Furniture, 1762, plate XXI). The model remained fashionable; a similar ‘Library Case’ appeared in Hepplewhite’s The cabinet maker and upholsterer's guide, first published in 1788, plate 43. The pattern for the glazed astragal panels of this bookcase is illustrated in Chippendale’s design (1st edition, LXIX), and later in The Cabinet-Maker’s Book of Prices, 2nd edition, 1793, plate 15. Comparable molded door panels appear on a mahogany secretaire bookcase illustrated in M. Harris & Son 1868-1968 Centenary Book, 1968, n.p., and on a breakfront bookcase exhibited at the Grosvenor House fair in 1958 (R.F. Lock Ltd., p. 56). Another model of similar form, from the estate of Adelaide Stein Miller, sold Sotheby’s, New York, 23 October 1998, lot 424.
This cabinet was formerly in the collection of the Trevelyan family at Nettlecombe Court, Somerset, sold by Christie’s in 1957, the property of the late Mrs. J. A. Wolseley, who had inherited it from her father, Sir Walter John Trevelyan, 8th Baronet (1866-1931), in 1931 (Christie’s, King Street, 12 December 1957, lot 72). Lot 70 in this sale was listed as a suite of neoclassical seat-furniture supplied to Sir John Trevelyan, 4th Baronet (1735-1828) for Nettlecombe Court as part of the alterations to the main reception rooms from the 1780s (ibid.). The sale was one in a series conducted by Mrs. Wolseley’s trustees; a late 18th century commode, likewise inherited by Mrs. Wolseley from her father, sold Christie’s London, 11 October 1962, lot 35, and later, Christie’s, New York, 14-15 April 2011, lot 400. It almost certainly was moved from the Trevelyan seat of Wallington in Northumberland in the late 19th century as it bore a pencil inscription ‘John Codling Joiner Wallington’, who was employed as a house joiner in the mansion. This example shows that furniture was, unsurprisingly, transferred between houses, and interestingly, a bookcase in the Central Hall at Wallington features a similar fretwork cornice to this secretaire cabinet (NT 582702).
Nettlecombe Court in Somerset came to the present family in the mid-12th century, and has since descended through the Ralegh, Whalesburgh, Trevelyan and Wolseley branches. Estates in Northumberland and Durham, including Wallington, however, did not come into the family until 1777, when Sir Walter Calverley Blackett (1707-77) died and they passed to his sister's son, Sir John Trevelyan, 4th Baronet. Sir John inherited Nettlecombe after the death of his father, Sir George Trevelyan, in 1768. Therefore, beginning in 1777, the Trevelyan baronets resided both at Wallington, now a National Trust property, and Nettlecombe Court. Between 1787 and 1788, the 4th Baronet had the rooms on the south-west side of Nettlecombe Court restored and redecorated in the Adam style, and it was probably by this period that the present bookcase was in situ (R.J.E. Bush, ‘Nettlecombe Court 1: The Trevelyans and other residents at the Court’, Field Studies, vol. 3, no. 2, September 1970, p. 9).
Sir John, 4th Baronet, was succeeded in 1828 by his eldest son, another Sir John Trevelyan (1761-1846), who spent much of his life at Wallington because his wife, Maria, preferred it. His eldest son, Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan, 6th Baronet (1797-1879), succeeded in 1846, and upon his death without issue in 1879, Nettlecombe and the title went to a nephew, Alfred Wilson Trevelyan (1831-91), while the Wallington estate, which was not entailed, was passed on to a favorite nephew Charles Edward Trevelyan, 1st Baronet (1807-1886).
In 1931, Nettlecombe was left to Joan Alys Trevelyan, who married Garnet Ruskin Wolseley; Nettlecombe Court is still owned by the Wolseley family today.

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