The library armchairs combine the French 'picturesque' fashion with antique elements in the contemporary 'Roman' style that relate to a design for a 'French Chair' pattern published by Thomas Chippendale in the third edition of his Gemtleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1762, pl.XIX. The leg design is closely related to the set of twelve blue leather-upholstered chairs supplied in 1757 by the Soho Square cabinet-maker and upholsterer Paul Saunders for Holkham Hall, Norfolk. 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). Saunders almost certainly also supplied a set of eight similar chairs to the 3rd Viscount Weymouth in 1757, two of which were sold Christie's, London, Furniture, Silver and Porcelain from Longleat, 13-14 June 2002, lot 338 (£81,260).
A pair of identical armchairs, almost certainly from the same set as the present lot, was sold from a New York Collection, 17 October 1992, lot 242 ($59,400 including premium).
Sir William Francis Cuthbert Garthwaite, 2nd Baronet of Durham (1906-1993), was the eldest son of William Garthwaite of Staindrop, Co. Durham (d. 1956), a ship owner and sugar plantation owner, who assisted the Admiralty with shipping between Canada and France during the two world wars and was decorated with the award of Chevalier, Crown of Belgium and created 1st Bt. Garthwaite of Durham in 1919. The 2nd Bt. was educated at Bradfield College, Reading and Hertford College, Oxford University. In 1931, he contested Hemsworth Division of West Riding of Yorkshire as a conservative in the general election, in 1935, the Isle of Ely and in 1945, the East Division of Wolverhampton. During the Second World War, he was a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm and was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross (D.S.C.), the bar in 1942, and mentioned in dispatches three times. He succeeded to the title of 2nd Bt. Garthwaite of Durham on 21 June 1956, and resided at Matfield House, Matfield in Kent, part-Baroque mansion with later alterations, of 1728, in the style of nearby Finchcocks.