The boldly carved sofa is typical of work from the Galle district of Ceylon, where English forms of furniture were executed using native timbers. Several such examples are illustrated in Amin Jaffer, Furniture from British India and Ceylon, London, 2001, pp. 371 - 374, nos. 180 - 181 and p. 378, no. 186. The sofa offered here, with outscrolled arms and S-scroll legs corresponds loosely to a pattern published in the London Chairmakers' and Carvers Book of Prices, 1823. The pattern was developed and embellished in publications such as Thomas King's Supplementary Plates to the Modern Style (1840) and Henry Whitakers's The Practical Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Treasury of Designs, 1847. At this time furniture-makers from Britain were trying to establish themselves in Ceylon but the great majority of craftsmen were from the native population. Their proficiency had been noted as early as 1803 and in 1843, J. W Bennett wrote that the local woodworkers 'make very durable and beautiful cabinet furniture of every description'
This type of furniture was the most highly prized by both indigenous and European consumers, Edward Barnes, Governor of Ceylon from 1824 - 31 brought back a notable group of it, now at Capesthorpe Hall, Macclesfield, including ebony chairs, a specimen or 'fancy wood' centre table, and an 'ebony couch' variously described as 'richly carved in flowers or foliage' and with 'reeded frame and legs' (A. Jaffer, op. cit., p. 362).