The chairs feature a distinctive lyre-back, the same pattern which appears on chairs supplied by Thomas Chippendale for two of his most prominent commissions. The Grecian lyre splat, centered by a Palmyrene 'sunflower' medallion, was adapted from a 'parlour chair' pattern invented in 1767 by the architect Robert Adam (d.1792) (originally executed for the Eating Room at Osterley Park and now in the Soane Museum). This pattern was transformed into library chairs the following year by Thomas Chippendale, under Adam's direction, for Nostell Priory, Yorkshire (Gilbert, op. cit., fig. 150). Chippendale's entry in his invoice describes the chairs with 'carving exceeding rich in the antique taste'. The pattern was used on the set of six armchairs Chippendale supplied to Sir Penistone Lamb, 1st Viscount Melbourne (d. 1828) for his Library at Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire in around 1773. The six chairs were included in the Brocket Hall house sale conducted by Messrs. Foster, Pall Mall, London, 12-14 March 1923, lot 400. Two were subsequently sold, the property of a Lady, Christie's, London, 9 July 1992, lot 30; while another belongs to the Chippendale Society of Otley (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, London, 1978, vol. I, p. 263 and vol. II, fig. 151).
A further undocumented set of this model of similarly simplified form with straight legs formed part of the collection at Scampston Hall in Yorkshire and may have been commissioned by Sir William St. Quintin, 5th Baronet of Harpham, as part of the improvements to the property upon his succession in 1770 (see A. Oswald, 'Scampston Hall, Yorkshire-II', Country Life, 8 April 1954, p. 1037, fig. 9). A single armchair with straight molded legs joined by stretchers from the collection of Augustus Spencer is illustrated in F. S. Robinson, English Furniture, London, 1908, pl. CXXI. A pair with term feet was sold anonymously, Sotheby's, New York, 29 October 1983, lot 112. The more simplified variation on the Brocket and Nostell chairs may suggest that they were executed for a patron who preferred furniture 'done in a neat but not an expensive manner' (Gilbert, ibid, p. 169). Certainly, his firm regularly supplied the full range of articles for a project. However, in the absence of documentation, one must remain cautious about a Chippendale attribution. Payments by Chippendale to local craftsmen do exist, notably at Harewood House, confirming an arrangement where he would supply the designs for the non-principal rooms to be executed locally. Christopher Gilbert also puts forward the question as to whether some of the articles supplied by his firm may not have been executed in his workshop proper. Additionally, some patrons would employ local craftsmen to execute Chippendale models given the difficulty of shipping from London. One can refer to a 1758 letter of the 5th Earl of Dumfries regarding the furnishing of Dumfries House in Scotland, for whom Chippendale was the principal supplier. In referring to the suite of Drawing Room seat furniture he wrote: 'I would only have one patteron [sic] Elbow Chair, and the two Settees made at London, and the others I should chose to get made at Edinburgh'. Important Edinburgh firms who worked at Dumfries include William Mathie and Alexander Peters.