The form of this commode is derived from a pattern for a 'French Commode Table' in the third edition of Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 3rd. ed., 1763, pl. XLVIII, illustrated in L. White, Pictorial Dictionary of British 18th Century Furniture Design, Woodbridge, 1990, p. 180. The concept of drawers projecting between panelled cupboards also derives from a Director pattern for a 'Desk and Bookcase', pl. CVIII (White, op. cit., p. 223), but in place of the latter's acanthus-enriched medallions this commode features cusped quatrefoils such as appear on a Director clock-case pattern, pl. CLXIII (White, op. cit., p. 444).
This commode is one of the keys to the identification of the Wentworth Cabinet-Maker as Wright and Elwick. A commode of this model is at Nostell Priory where there is evidence of the firm's employment in a disparaging reference in a letter from Thomas Chippendale to Sir Rowland Winn to 'the Ingenious Mr Elwick' (Nostell Archives, C3/1/5/3/5, see: G. Beard and C. Gilbert, eds., The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, Leeds, 1986, p. 1007). A characteristic of the group, with the notable exception of this lot, are vigorous foliate rococo handles. There was another of this type with very bold handles that was at Wentworth Woodhouse before being sold at Christie's at Spencer House on 15 July 1948, lot 110. It differed from this lot in having plinths below the sides rather than bracket feet. In this latter respect the 1948 commode was closest to one sold at Sotheby's New York, 27 January 1996, lot 318, which had both plinth bases and foliate handles. The commode sold in 1948 was not illustrated in the catalogue but is visible in Christie's photograph of the room as laid out for the sale which is reproduced in the introduction to this catalogue.
In the combination of Director-derived design, unusual timber and foliate handles this commode is completely characteristic of the group here identified as by Wright and Elwick. Furthermore there is firm evidence of another of the type at another house where the firm was employed. The final piece of evidence is the existence of another commode of the type at Wentworth Woodhouse itself. With extensive payments over a number of years, Wright and Elwick are surely likely to have been the large scale furnisher at the house.
One characteristic of this commode is the apparent oriental influence in its design, particularly of its foot. This is also clear in the flying angle-brackets of lot 63. This may be characteristic of Wright and Elwick, known to be importers of goods from China, and certainly seems comparable to lot 15 in the sale at Christie's London on 9 July 1998, a cabinet also attributed to the firm (see that catalogue).