This superb bookcase which combines 'Roman' architecture with French 'picturesque', Chinese and Gothick elements epitomizes the variety of styles popularized by Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754. Other examples of this model show that the base section is wreathed by a double-braced Chinese fret which, like the scalloped cornice, features in Chippendale's 'China Case' pattern of 1761 (3rd edition of the Director, 1762, pl. CXXXVII).
Both subscribers to Chippendale's Director, Richard Wright and Edward Elwick are first recorded in Wakefield, Yorkshire, in 1748, although Wright had undoubtedly worked in London before moving to Wakefield at 'ye Greatest Tapestry Manufactory in England for Upwards of Twenty Years' (C. Gilbert, 'Wright and Elwick of Wakefield', Furniture History, 1976, pp. 34-50). The Marquess of Rockingham of Wentworth Woodhouse was amongst their principal patrons, with notable examples attributed to Wright and Elwick, sold in the Wentworth sale, Christie's, London, 8 July 1998.
A similar bookcase with quatrefoil motifs on the drawer fronts was formerly in the renowned early 20th century collection of Claude D. Rotch, Esq., The Elms, Surrey, sold Christie's, London, 28 November 2002, lot 110. Like his contemporary Percival Griffiths, Roch was influenced by the connoisseur R. W. Symonds. His bequest of Georgian furniture to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1962 was described at the time as 'the most remarkable single gift of English Furniture ever presented to the Museum.' The bookcase, along with many other examples from the Rotch collection, is illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1924-27, vol. I, p. 77, fig. 19, among other publications. Another closely related bookcase, but with key-pattern bracket feet and no cornice, is illustrated in F. Lewis Hinckley, The More Significant Georgian Furniture, New York, 1990, p. 57, fig. 77, sold Christie's, New York, 29-30 November 2012, lot 105.