This pair of library armchairs relate to a group of mid-18th century chairs made by a group of cabinet-makers who have become known as the St. Martin's Lane Syndicate. The significant members of this group were William Hallett, Wiliam Vile and John Cobb who, in addition to working in neighbouring premises, shared common interests. Both Hallett and Vile originated from Somerset, and indeed Vile had worked for Hallett, who later gave Vile financial backing when starting his own career. Maintaining their links with their home county they are thought to have supplied a suite of furniture for John, 2nd Earl Poulett at Hinton House, Somerset, a pair of chairs from which was sold anonymously, Christie's New York, 16 October 1998, lot 333.
There are several known chairs that closely resemble the present pair. The chairs that compare most closely were sold by the Earl of Warwick, Sotheby's sale at Syon Park, Middlesex, 14-16 May 1997, lots 50 and 51. These three chairs displayed very similar simply moulded arms and what appears to be characteristic downswept shaped spandrels to the legs. A further suite, supplied to the Earl of Lichfield for Ditchley, Oxfordshire, is illustrated in situ in H.A. Tipping, In English Homes, London, 1909, vol. III, p. 322, which displays these design characteristics. William Hallett is known to have supplied the 2nd Earl of Lichfield 'tables, stand and screen' (G. Beard and C. Gilbert (eds.), Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, 1660-1840, 1986, p. 389) in 1742, so it is possibly by association that this suite of seat furniture, very much in Hallett's oeuvre, may have been supplied by the St. Martin's Lane maker. Bearing this in mind these commissions which have probable links with the St. Martin's Lane syndicate or indeed Hallett, it is not unreasonable to suggest that he may have exerted influence on the manufacture of the present pair of chairs.