This fine mahogany armchair with its superbly executed carved ornamentation of Pan’s reeds and Venus’s scallop shell can be related to furniture designs in the emerging Rococo and theatrical style of the Palladian architect, John Vardy (d. 1765). Vardy is celebrated for a magnificent suite of giltwood seat-furniture commissioned by John Spencer, later 1st Earl Spencer (d. 1783), for the Palm Room at Spencer House, London. In this endeavour he was probably assisted by his brother Thomas (d. 1788), a skilled carver. A pair of window seats from this suite exhibit related exuberant foliate carving (sold 'The Spencer House Sale’, Christie’s, King Street, 8 July 2010, lot 1020), and a drawing by Vardy has been identified with a design for a set of pier tables and glasses at Hackwood Park, Hampshire, supplied to Charles Powlett, 5th Duke of Bolton (d. 1765) in 1761; the detail of the carved scallop shell flanked by intertwining foliate scrolls is related to that found on this chair (A. Coleridge, ‘John Vardy and the Hackwood Suite’, Connoisseur, January 1962, Vol. 149, pp. 12-17).
Vardy was attached to the Royal Office of Works from 1736 in the same period as William Kent, and the pair were close associates; Vardy was also responsible for the publication of Some Designs of Mr. Inigo Jones and Mr. William Kent in 1744, a tribute to the Palladian designs of the two architect-designers. It is, therefore, interesting to note the form of the present chair, which in ‘Kentian’ manner successfully combines restraint with lavishly carved decoration as demonstrated in the magnificent suite of seat-furniture designed by Kent for Houghton Hall, Norfolk, circa 1730 (ed. S. Soros, William Kent: Designing Georgian Britain, New Haven and London, 2013, p. 472, fig. 18.3).