Originally from a set of five, of which three remain at Althorp, these mahogany armchairs are designed in the 'French' taste first popularised in Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754, pl. XVIII - XIX. With their distinctive complimentary design of the front and side rails in the French tradition, as well as the marked curvature of the legs and the Roman acanthus foliage issuing from water-bubbled cartouches, they are probably from the same workshop as the other Spencer mahogany suites attributed to Paul Saunders. Saunders had formed a partnership around 1751 with George Smith Bradshaw and possibly also his brother William Bradshaw, establishing workshops in Soho Square, London. He worked extensively at Petworth House, Sussex from 1748, at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, Holkham, Norfolk and at Longleat, Somerset. Like some of Holkham's drawing-room chairs and the Longleat library writing-table also attributed to Saunders, the present chairs are enriched in 'Director' fashion, with prominently displayed Roman foliage issuing from reeded and water-bubbled cartouches.
Several chairs of closely related form, undoubtedly executed in the same workshop and possibly all from the same set originally but differing slightly in detail to the present chairs, are known. One was sold from the collection of H.J. Joel, Christie's house sale, Childwick Bury, Hertfordshire, 15 May 1978, lot 62, while a pair from the collection of Captain M.F. Buller, Crediton, Devon, were sold at Sotheby's, London, 15th November 1985, lot 89.