These chairs may have formed part of a set belonging to Lord Zouche of Parham Park, Sussex (see H. Cescinsky, English Furniture of the Eighteenth Century, vol. II, n.d. , p. 46, fig. 35). An 1888 inventory lists 'a set of ten Mahogany shaped back high cabriole frame chairs with seats in tapestery work' in the Chapel adjacent to the Long Gallery which may be these chairs (West Sussex Record Office, Parham/1/6/2/1/2). Parham belonged to the Bishop family since 1601; in 1826 Cecil Bishop became the 12th Lord Zouche and in 1922, Baroness Zouche sold the estate to the Hon. Clive and Alicia Pearson (at which time the house was virtually empty). The house has been open to the public since 1948.
Three chairs of this model were sold from the collection of the Earls of Iveagh at Elveden Hall, Norfolk, sold Christie's House Sale, 21-24 May 1984, lot 460 (two subsequently resold Sotheby's, London, 8 May 1992, lot 219). Edward Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh (d. 1927), who helped propel the family brewery into worldwide fame, was a known collector and likely bought the chairs. He bequeathed his valuable collection of pictures and Kenwood, his Hampstead estate, to the nation. A pair of nearly identical side chairs sold Christie's, New York, 19-20 January 1996, lot 479, while an armchair sold Christie's, New York, 17 October 1992, lot 291.
The above sets, possibly all originating at Parham Park, compare to a large suite from Worsborough Hall, Yorkshire, some of which was later displayed in the Governor's Palace at Colonial Williamsburg (two pairs of side chairs sold Christie's New York, 23 October 1982, lots 184 and 185). Other chairs from the Worsborough Hall set are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The chairs' carved strapwork evolves from earlier gilt-gesso designs, while the imbricated shell crest anticipates a group of chairs that have traditionally been ascribed to London cabinet-maker Giles Grendey (d. 1780) and includes a set of six chairs probably commissioned in the early 1740s by John, 2nd Earl Poulett (d. 1764) for Hinton House, Somerset.