With a strong attribution to New York's most famous cabinetmaker, this assembled set of ten chairs stand as an important survival of early American craftsmanship. The back stays and rope-twist carving on the stiles are identical to those on a set of twenty four made for Charles Gustavus Smedberg and attributed to Duncan Phyfe (1768-1854) by Nancy McClelland. Another single slipper chair, made for Prudency Telford Morton, also bears the same back design (Nancy McClelland, Duncan Phyfe and the English Regency (New York, 1939), pp. 287, 294, 296-297, pls. 274, 283). The set offered here, however, is distinguished by the hairy shank carved legs and paw feet, a refined feature that would have added considerably to the expense. Similar legs are seen on other chairs attributed to Phyfe, as well as his sketch accompanying his 1816 bill to Charles N. Bancker (Charles F. Montgomery, American Furniture: The Federal Period (New York, 1966), p. 126; Sotheby's New York, May 19, 2005).
Six of these chairs were part of a set of eight that, along with a table, were a wedding present for Charlotte Rose (b. 1797) and William Coggeshall Holly (b. 1791), who married in New York City in about 1815. Charlotte's father was a prominent judge in New York, and her husband's family had settled in Stamford, Connecticut in 1642. The chairs passed to her son, Augustus Holly (1828-1910), who was married to Anna Edes Kissam (b. 1834). They then came down to their daughter, Louise Reynolds Holly (1873-1971) who married Ralph Bartlett Goddard, the noted painter and sculptor, in 1912. Remaing at the Goddards' home at 955 Park Avenue until the 1960s, the six chairs descended in the family until their sale at auction in 2007.