The form of this kneehole writing-table with its voluted and garland scrolled frame relates to patterns for 'French Commode Tables' published in Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker's Director, 1763, pl. LXVII and LXIX. Its 'Recess for the Knees is of a circular Form, which looks more handsome than when it is quite streight' (Chippendale's note for pl. LXII).
The adaptation of Chippendale patterns and the desk's elaborate carving are characteristics associated with the work of Wright and Elwick, cabinet-makers from Wakefield, Yorkshire. Although relatively little is known about this partnership, Richard Wright and Edward Elwick have been attributed with supplying furniture to Charles, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham for Wentworth Woodhouse, 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 the first in 1748 to the last in 1784, indicating a long and lasting relationship between the two parties. A florid interpretation of a Chippendale design is clearly demonstrated on the fustic commode sold from Wentworth Woodhouse, Christie's, 8 July 1998, lot 65 which exhibits exhuberant giltwood carved angles and apron. Most notable about the kneehole desk is its striking similarity in form, carving, choice of hardware and construction (such as the neatly panelled back) to a dressing-table attributed to the firm which was previously in the collections of S. B. Joel and in the Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg. The dressing-table (sold in these Rooms, 15 April 2005, lot 345) also incorporated exotic sabicu -imbers, another trait associated with the firm.
This 'bureau-commode-table' was designed to partner with another identical (the pair illustrated in F. L. Hinckley's books including Masterpieces of Queen Anne and Georgian Furniture, 1991, New York, pl. 74, fig. 144). The two remained together until the latter was sold in the celebrated Walter P. Chrysler sale of 1960. The offered example was said by the owner to have also come from the Chrysler collection, however it does not appear in any of his offerings at public auction and may have been acquired privately. The two desks would have been used back-to-back as exemplified by a similar pair at Althorp illustrated in R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, rev. edn., Suffolk, 1954, vol. III, p. 250, fig. 22.
The pair of desks were owned by Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, 1st Marquess of Lincolnshire (d. 1928), a Liberal M.P. in the House of Commons for High Wycombe. He was the son of Robert John, 2nd Baron Carrington (d. 1868) and The Hon. Charlotte Augusta Drummond-Willoughby, daughter of Alberic, 23rd Baron Willoughby de Eresby. He was created Earl Carrington and Viscount Wendover in 1895 and Marquess of Lincolnshire in 1912, a title that became extinct after his death. The desks were sold by his estate at Christie's in 1928 and thereafter joined the American collections of Charles McCann and (according to the owner) the industrial magnate Walter P. Chrysler, a noted collector.