This ‘superb small bookcase in fine quality mahogany from Chirk Castle Wales’ was featured in an undated Apollo advertisement by the Lancashire furniture dealer, Edward Nield. Chirk Castle was purchased in 1595 by Sir Thomas Myddelton who made his fortune in the East India Company. Although this provenance has not been substantiated, the breakfront could certainly have been supplied to his descendant, Richard Myddelton (1726-95), in the early 1760s. His marriage in 1761 prompted a period of ambitious modernization of both the house and grounds, with the architect William Yoxall of Nantwich hired until 1764 followed by Joseph Turner, surveyor of Hawarden, who remodeled the state rooms in 1766-78.
Little is known about the cabinet-makers that supplied the furnishings for these fashionable interiors. Surviving correspondence from the London firm of John Mayhew and William Ince to Richard Myddelton in 1782-3 discuss the suite of furniture they supplied for the Saloon (G. Beard and C. Gilbert eds., The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840, London 1986, p. 596) and they are known to have supplied other furniture to Chirk in the 1760s (see Chirk Castle; Christie's House Sale, 21 June 2004). However, the distinctive cartouche panel with foliate clasps is more indicative of the work of the Royal Cabinet-maker William Vile (d.1767). Related examples attributed to Vile include a breakfront bookcase from the collection of the late Sir James Caird (R. Edwards and M. Jourdain, Georgian Furniture Makers, London, 1962, p.150, fig. 59) and another sold anonymously at Christie's, London, 25 September 1980, lot 143.