With its boldly scrolled toes, channeled legs of a distinctive profile, foliate-carved knees and petal-carved handholds, this chair is closely related to the suite supplied to John, 2nd Earl Poulett (d.1764) for Hinton House, Somerset. While the Poulett papers are incomplete, several leading London cabinet-makers, probably working under the supervision of the architect Matthew Brettingham, can be associated with the commission on the basis of documented designs or similarities to known works, and these include Matthias Lock, Giles Grendey and Thomas Chippendale. Current research has associated the Hinton House suite with Messrs. William Vile (d.1767) and John Cobb (d.1778), later Royal cabinet-makers to George III, who formed a powerful syndicate with William Hallett (d.1781) in St. Martin's Lane from 1753. Vile and Cobb supplied a set of closely related side chairs to Anthony Chute for the Vyne, Hampshire in the same year, one of which is illustrated in A. Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, fig. 27. In addition, both Vile and Hallett were born in Somerset, within five miles of Hinton St. George, and maintained contact with their relatives there. As such, they would have been privy to the 2nd Earl's refurbishments, particularly as their neighbor Matthias Lock was supplying furniture for the house.
Related boldly scrolled features appear on a suite of seat-furniture sold by R. Heathcote Armory at Christie's, London, 22 February 1962, lot 97 (and again anonymously on 21 November 1985, lot 161), whilst a further related library chair, covered in 18th century needlework and almost certainly by these cabinet-makers was sold Christie's, New York, 19-20 January 1996, lot 381.
The needlework on the back panel celebrates Love's triumph, depicting a scene from Virgil's Aeneid with Cupid attending the union of Aeneas and Dido, Queen of Cathage during a hunt. A pair of plain George III 'Gainsborough' armchairs covered in closely related needlework is illustrated in Mallett, English and Continental Antique Furniture, London, 1992, pp. 14-15.
According to family tradition of a previous owner, this chair was in the collections of the Dukes of Bedford, Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire.