The chairs combine the French 'picturesque' fashion with antique elements in the contemporary 'Roman' style. Their serpentined and voluted arms are enhanced by Roman acanthus enrichments and their design relates to a 'French Chair' pattern that was added by Chippendale to the third edition of his Director, 1962 (pl.XIX).
The same distinctive features incorporating Roman acanthus-wrapped cabochons and flutes feature on a number of pieces attributed to the Soho firm of cabinet-makers and upholsterers established around 1751 by Paul Saunders in partnership with George Smith Bradshaw (d.1812). Among these and closely related to the present lot is a suite of furniture almost certainly supplied to Thomas, 3rd Viscount Weymouth, later 1st Marquess of Bath (1734-96), between 1757-59 for Longleat, Wiltshire. The latter included eight armchairs and two sofas, of which two armchairs were sold by The Trustees of the Longleat Chattels Settlement, Christie's, London, 13 June 2002, lot 338.
This same patterned leg had featured on twelve blue leather-upholstered chairs supplied by Saunders in 1757 for Holkham's great room of entertainment, that combined a sculpture gallery and library. These accompanied a pair of card-tables, a pair of settees and ten 'elbow' armchairs, which like the present lot lack the fluting on the arm supports. The Holkham chairs were invoiced in June 1757 by Messrs. Saunders and Bradshaw and were richly carved to match 'a pattern chair' that had been supplied the previous year (A. Coleridge, Chippendale Furniture, London, 1968, p. 211, figs. 378-379 and J. Cornforth, 'French Style, English Mood', Country Life, 1 October 1992, p. 80, fig. 6). The payments to Paul Saunders, of £556 15s in November 1757 and £300 in November 1759, are recorded in the 3rd Viscount Weymouth's bank account at Drummonds (C. Cator, 'Works of Art from Longleat', Christie's International Magazine, May/June 2002, pp. 69-78).