C.Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, vol.II, p.48, fig.45
An early George III mahogany breakfront-bookcase with secretaire drawer, attributed to Thomas Chippendale, the broken swan-neck pediment with rosette terms centring fretwork and a platform above a dentil-moulded cornice and four astragal glazed doors enclosing adjustable shelves, the lower section with a pagoda waist moulding above a central secretaire drawer with fitted interior and inset panel of hide, further drawers and four paneled cupboard doors enclosing adjustable mahogany shelves, retaining original chased-brass handles and standing on a plinth base.
Thomas Chippendale is widely considered the finest cabinet-maker and furniture designer of the eighteenth century. His designs, published in his groundbreaking The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, revolutionised contemporary taste and immediately established him as the greatest designer of his day.
Subscribed to by wealthy landowners, cabinet-makers other designers and architects, the Director demonstrated Chippendale’s genius for combining different styles in his designs. Comparing closely with Chippendale’s own sketches, the present bookcase, featuring pagoda motifs and Chinese astragals alongside rocaille foliate handles, seamlessly combining Chinese and French Rococo styles to form a harmonized whole. A fine example is the Chinese fretwork in the pediment which connects long, elegant C-scrolls.
In addition to the sophistication of the design, the fine quality of the timber, carving and construction also support attribution to Chippendale.
The form of this bookcase with its elegant dentilled swan neck pediment and cornice, paneled cabinet doors and pagoda waist moulding compares to documented examples executed in the workshop of Thomas Chippendale.
In particular, it compares closely to a pair of Chippendale bookcases, commissioned by the Earl of Pembroke for Wilton House, that appear in Sir William Chambers’ drawings for the study at Wilton, seen here.
This bookcase is exceptional quality throughout. It bears striking design similarities and constructional methods to documented Chippendale pieces, and it is highly likely that this breakfront was also executed in the Chippendale workshop during the mid 1760s.