These chairs are remarkable in that the architect/designer and cabinet-maker can be firmly identified. Executed by Gillow of Lancaster and London, probably in the early 1780s, to a design by the architect-designer brothers Samuel (1737-1807) and James Wyatt (1746-1813), the model, known as ‘Wyatt’s pattern chair’, is illustrated in ed. Lindsay Boynton, Gillow furniture designs 1760-1800, Royston, 1995, fig. 275. The Wyatts’ spare neo-classical style, famous for the restraint of their interiors and the use of minimal ornament, gilding and inlay, which concentrated on the beauty of the timbers and the form of furniture, raised Gillow’s designs to new levels; Boynton describes the model as ‘unquestionably the hallmark of the best Gillow furniture of the last quarter of the Eighteenth century’ (ibid.). The design of these chairs was the second Wyatt pattern adopted by Gillow. It was illustrated in the Journeymen's Price Agreement (1785) and had become the widely accepted form of Wyatt chair by the 1780s, being of more elegant proportions than the first version produced in 1774 (S. Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London, 1730-1840, vol. I, Woodbridge, 2008, pp. 134, 158-9, pl. 111). As was frequently the case with a popular model, Gillow continued to make this chair over a relatively long period of time, between 1782 and 1791. A virtually identical ‘compass-seat’ chair upholstered in close-studded needlework is in the Henry du Pont Library & Museum, Winterthur, Delaware (ibid, pl. 110). A related set [of fourteen] of this pattern was sold by the Trustees of the J.S. Sykes Marriage Settlement Trust, Christie's, London, 28 June 1984, lot 162 (£43,200).
The friendship and alliance between Robert Gillow (1745-95) and Samuel Wyatt, which was to result in numerous important commissions for furnishing country houses, began sometime after 1776 when Robert moved from Lancaster to London to run the Oxford Street shop. In January 1779 Richard Gillow (1734-1811) wrote to a Liverpool cabinet-maker and timber merchant: ‘… Mr. Wyatt lived in London & my brother & he are intimately acquainted’ (S. Stuart, ‘More eighteenth-century Gillow furniture discovered at Tatton Park’, Regional Furniture Society, 2013, no. 3, p. 101).