James Orrock (1829-1913) was a notable broker of early 20th century English taste. Having first established himself as a painter, his high-profile connoisseurship gave him acceptance within a wealthy Victorian society and access to rich friends and clients. Amongst these was William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme (1851-1925) who between 1904 and 1912 bought almost all of Orrock's art collection, as well as sixty oils and more than 1000 watercolours by the artist himself.
Lord Leverhulme, the Sunlight Soap magnate, began by collecting English oak followed by 18th century French furniture. By the 1890s he committed himself to forming a collection representative of the best of British art - an endeavour that lasted for the last thirty years of his life. His pursuit of Georgian furniture was virtually unparalleled at the time, but fully evident by the turn-of-the-century at his homes at Thornton Manor, Merseyside and The Hill in Hampstead. His exceptional collection of furniture is only one manifestation of his passion for the English arts that are now largely housed in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, a museum that he established in Port Sunlight in 1922. This remarkable collection retains countless important examples of English eighteenth century cabinet-making acquired by Lever over a thirty year period.
A related George I walnut double chair-back settee with similarly shaped back, eagle head arm terminals and cabriole legs headed by shells was sold anonymously, Sotheby's, London, 4 July 1997, lot 31 (£68,600). An armchair with shell-carved legs and related eagle's-head arm-terminals was in the collection of Percival D. Griffiths, F.S.A., Sandridgebury and illustrated in R. W. Symonds, English Furniture from Charles II to George II, London, 1929, p. 150, fig. 97. The serpentine-shaped seat rail of this chair back-settee is highly unusual. A George II walnut double chair-back settee with a serpentine-shaped seat rail was sold by the late R. Strauss Esq, from Polpier, Mevagissen, Cornwall; Phillips house sale, 30 May 1991, lot 41 (£54,000). This comparable settee is illustrated in R. Symonds, English Furniture from Charles II to George II, London, 1929, fig. 11.