The quality of timber and carving on the superb secretaire cabinet confirm the work of a craftsman of the highest quality, but stylistic and constructional features point to the possibility of the St. Martin's Lane, London, cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale (1718-79). The swan-neck pediment shows similarities with that of another secretaire almost certainly supplied by Chippendale to Daniel Lascelles for Goldsborough Hall, Yorkshire in the early 1770's (Christie's London, 22 November 2007, lot 620 [withdrawn]) while the frieze is carved with fluting and sunflower paterae similar to those on furniture commissioned for Paxton House, Berwickshire in the 1770's (Anthony Coleridge, 'Chippendale, Interior-Decorator and House-Furnisher', Apollo, April 1963, p.297, fig.11). The carved swags adorning the cabinet doors are reminiscent of those on a secretaire cabinet which also features the sunflower paterae, sold Christie's London, 50 Years of Collecting, The Decorative Arts of Georgian England, 14 May 2003, lot 50. The present lot also features short-grain 'kickers' to stabilise the drawers when open, another feature employed by Chippendale.
If not Chippendale a plausible alternative attribution would be the Wakefield, Yorkshire cabinet-makers of Richard Wright and Edward Elwick whose partnership lasted from 1747 until 1771. Both subscribed separately to the first edition of Chippendale's Director of 1754 and they were almost certainly employed by Sir Rowland Winn at Nostell Priory, Leeds, immediately prior to Chippendale who started work there in 1766. Their work shows close parallels with that of their London competitor as demonstrated by the furniture they supplied to Charles, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham (d.1782) for Wentworth Woodhouse, Yorkshire, and sold Christie's London, 8 July 1998, lots 33-35, 62-65, 67, 69 and 70. Furthermore, they appear to have been employed by John Spencer at Cannon Hall in 1768 on the advice of his architect John Carr in preference to the likes of Chippendale or John Cobb, indicating their work to be on a par with the best of London's cabinet-makers.
The bookcase was among a distinguished collection of English furniture at Sutton Hall, pieces from which exhibited in Thomas Chippendale (1718 - 1779) at Temple Newsam House, Leeds, 8 June to 15 July 1951.