These East India Company chairs imported from China are of George I 'parlour chair' form; and, with their vase-fretted splats framed by scrolled pilasters, were known at the period as 'India-back' chairs. They were formerly at Warwick Castle, Warwickshire, and formed part of a set of eight chairs, one of which was acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1978. They are embellished with golden ornament, whose flowers, baskets and lakeside landscapes relates to that of a small Cantonese cabinet that was made about 1720 and housed a model of a European merchant (discussed by Craig Clunas in 'Moulding a Physiognomy - A Chinese Portrait Figure', The V & A Album, vol. 3, 1984 pp.46-51 and figs 7 and 6).
The first record of Chinese Export chairs being imported into England occurs in 1726, when '24 Chairs of rosewood inlaid with mother of pearl' were brought in at a total value of £12. In 1727, the first record of lacquered chairs occurs and by the 1730s importations of both rosewood, padouk and lacquered chairs were comparatively commonplace. The Warwick chairs are almost identical to those at Beningborugh Hall, Yorkshire, discussed in A. Bowett, 'Some Chinese Influences on early Georgian Furniture', Antique Collector's Club, 2007, fig.10. A further set of twelve almost identical Export lacquer chairs - decorated with the monogram of King Christian IV and Queen Sophie Magdalene of Denmark - were brought back from China in 1735 and have remained in Fredensborg Castle since them. These chairs also retain their original gilt- tooled leather seats and the same cord and cane weave underlying the seat padding, although this is all too often lost (J. Clemmensen, 'Some Furniture Made in China in the English Style, Exported from Canton to Denmark 1735, 1737 and 1738', Furniture History Society Journal, 1985, p. 175, figs. 1-3). Another set of six - although lacking their original seats - was formerly in the collection of Mona, Countess Bismarck (the latter advertised in Pelham Galleries Catalogue , London, 1989).
Warwick Castle was a ruin when Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke (d.1628) obtained the grant of the Castle from James I in 1604. Greville, one of the most extraordinary men of his age, had been a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I and was consulted by her on the establishment of the East India Company in 1600. He subsequently invested in the company and assisted it in his role as Treasurer of the Navy. Whilst there are, therefore, long established ties between the East India company and the Greville family, no such concrete link has been established between his descendant Francis Greville, 8th Baron Brooke (1727) and later 1st Earl of Warwick (1759). Although he does not appear to have ordered armorial porcelain, Greville must presumably have maintained some trading ties with the East India Company - and certainly displayed a penchant for Export furniture, as he acquired a further set of lacquer open armchairs which were sold by the Trustees of Warwick Castle Resettlement, Christie's London, 21 March 1968, lot 108. This suite is also illustrated in 'Warwick Castle, II', Country Life, 6 June 1914, p.849.