This extraordinary bookcase which combines 'Roman' architecture with French 'picturesque', Chinese and Gothick elements epitomises the variety of styles popularised by Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754. The base section is wreathed by a double-braced Chinese fret which, like its scalloped cornice, features in Chippendale's 'China Case' pattern of 1761 (3rd edition of the Director, 1762, pl. CXXXVII).
A number of stylistic characteristics suggest the work of the Wakefield makers Wright and Elwick. The dependence on Chippendale's Director designs but with idiosyncratic variations and the use of quatrefoil motifs, here on the drawer fronts, also features on a group of furniture attributed to the firm and sold from Wentworth Woodhouse, Christie's, 8 July 1998, such as lots 35, 62 and 69.
A nearly identical bookcase was formerly in the exalted early 20th century collection of Claude D. Rotch, Esq., The Elms, Surrey. Rotch, like his contemporary Percival Griffiths, was influenced by the connoisseur R. W. Symonds. His bequest of early to mid-Georgian furniture was gifted to the Victoria and Albert Museum upon his death in 1962 and described at the time as 'The most remarkable single gift of English Furniture ever presented to the Museum'. The bookcase, along with many other examples from the Rotch collection, is illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1924-27, vol. I, fig. 77 among other publications. Another identical but pedimented bookcase with the same idiosyncratic Greek key feet was sold in the Arthur Leidesdorf sale [A Collection of English Furniture], Sotheby & Co., London, 28 June 1974, lot 78 (to J. Lawson for £10,000). A further related example with identical fret-carved base is illustrated in Macquoid and Edwards, op. cit., p. 140, fig. 41.