The saloon chairs are designed in the 'French' style and with their characteristic inverted baluster legs and scrolled arms jointed into the tops of the legs, they relate to the work of the London firm of Mayhew & Ince. Similar features are found on a grained and parcel-gilt armchair, part of a larger suite of sixteen open armchairs and two sofas, probably intended for the Drawing Room or Saloon at Cobham Hall, Kent, and supplied by Mayhew & Ince to John Bligh, 3rd Earl Darnley (d. 1781) (illustrated J. Cornforth, 'Cobham Hall, Kent – III’, Country Life, 10 March 1983, p. 571, fig. 10). The Mayhew & Ince commission for Lord Darnley was extensive, and included other sets of seat-furniture, both giltwood and painted; on 6 August 1771 the firm was paid £210, on 24 July and 20 November 1773, respectively £109, and £200 on account, and on 27 June 1774, £72 (ibid., p. 570).
Another similar set was almost certainly commissioned around 1782 from the firm by Richard Myddleton for the Great Saloon at Chirk Castle, Wrexham. A pair of armchairs from this suite sold 'Chirk Castle, Wrexham, Wales’, Christie’s, London, 21 June 2004, lot 50, (£74,090 including premium) and another armchair of the same model but painted green and cream lot 51 (£38,240 including premium). Furthermore, similar legs are found on a pair of marquetry commodes made by Mayhew & Ince around 1788 for Henry Temple, 2nd Viscount Palmerston, at Broadlands, Hampshire (H. Roberts, 'The Derby House commode’, The Burlington Magazine, May 1985, fig. 23).
Thomas Chippendale (d. 1779) also used inverted baluster legs in his seat-furniture designs; a pair of japanned green and white bergères from a suite of twelve armchairs, two bergères and a sofa was supplied for the Drawing Room of David Garrick’s house in Royal Adelphi Terrace (C. Gilbert, The Life and Work of Thomas Chippendale, vol. II, London, 1978, p. 98, fig. 160). Yet the arm pattern (joined into the top of the leg rather than to the side rail) is unconventional by known Chippendale standards.
Given the strong stylistic correlation with the work of Mayhew & Ince, the lack of any evidence of Mayhew & Ince at Harewood, and the suggestion that Mayhew & Ince did indeed work for the Earls of Chesterfield (based on a number of attributable pieces from the Earls of Chesterfield, either for Chesterfield House or Bretby Park), it is reasonable to speculate that the chairs offered here might have been supplied by Mayhew & Ince for Chesterfield House, and passed to the Earls of Harewood when the 6th Earl and his wife, HRH Princess Mary, acquired the lease on Chesterfield House.