This present settee from a larger suite belonged to Sir James Horlick, 4th Baronet (d. 1958), who assembled a notable collection of eighteenth century English furniture with an eye to buying only the best. The suite was featured in a 1958 Connoisseur article devoted to the collection at Achamore House entitled 'Chinoiserie in the Western Isles, the Collection of Sir James and Lady Horlick'. At that time, it was said to have been 'originally made for Gilbert, 4th Earl of Coventry (d. 1719)'.
The Coventry provenance is an intriguing one and supported by the pencil inscription 'Lady Coventry' on a cross brace. The needlework covers appear to date from the time of the 4th Earl (who died in 1719), with their elongated backs and chinoiserie design which was au courant in the early 18th century. Similar needlework covers worked with blossoming flowers in blue-and-white vases feature on a documented set of chairs supplied in 1714-15 for Canons Ashby (A. Bowett, Early Georgian Furniture 1715-1740, Woodbridge, 2009, p. 152, pl. 4:12). While little is known about the 4th Earl's collecting, he was apparently extravagant enough to put himself into financial difficulty.
The legs are designed in the French picturesque manner of the 1750s and 1760s. It is likely therefore, that the 6th Earl, who had inherited in 1751, subsequently re-used the earlier needlework on the extended early George III seat frame in a more contemporary fashion. Lord of the Bedchamber to Kings George II and George III, the 6th Earl embarked on a massive refurbishment of Croome Court in Worcestershire, as well as his London homes. In 1760, Robert Adam famously took on the project and the surviving bills indicate that London's top artisans were employed. The Royal cabinet-makers William Vile (d.1767) and John Cobb (d.1778) are plausible makers of the suite, as they worked extensively for the 6th Earl and figure prominently in the records at Croome from 1757 through the 1760s.
Sir James Horlick's assertion of Coventry provenance is a credible one but as yet unsubstantiated. The suite may have been supplied for one of the 6th Earl's London houses as it cannot be identified in the Croome Court invoices or the 1930 inventory for the house (Croome Estate Trust). It also does not appear in Sotheby's 25 June 1948 sale of Croome Court property. However, certain pieces were sold privately at an earlier date. The 9th Earl of Coventry (d. 1930) notably sold the famous tapestries and tapestry-covered furniture in 1880 when he re-papered the room (J. Parker,'Croome Court: The Architecture and Furniture', The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, November 1959).
In addition to Croome, the 6th Earl was actively refurbishing his London homes, principally Coventry House on 29 Piccadilly (now 106 Piccadilly, the St James's Club), and possibly Grosvenor Square and Margaret Street. Simultaneous activity at the London homes can be gleaned by an interesting entry on a 1763 Croome invoice from the carver Sefferin Alken 'for appraising furniture at your House in Grosvenor Square & Wrighting 2 Inventorys & Attendance Severall times', while Adam's direction at Coventry House is well known.