Ceremonial chairs were produced for civic corporations, clubs, learned societies, masonic lodges and livery companies, a tradition which began in gothic times and proliferated during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These oversized chairs were used by a Master or presiding official, and were typically emblazoned with the organization's coat-of-arms or appropriate emblem. The symbolism of the paired deer and grimacing hunting hounds on this magnificent chair strongly suggest its affiliation with a hunt club for use by the Master of Ceremonies. Its shaped cartouche cresting would have originally been painted with the club's badge.
The Master's chair with its cartouche back and serpentined frame corresponds to 'French chair' patterns illustrated in Thomas Chippendale's Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director, 1754 (pl.XIX). The designer and specialist carver Matthias Lock (d.1765) worked in association with Chippendale over a number of years and among his related 'Master chair' designs preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London is one that served as a sitter's chair for the artist Richard Cosway (see H.Hayward, 'A Unique Rococo Chair by Matthias Lock', Apollo, pp.268-271, fig.1).
The numerous Livery Companies which flourished in London from the end of the seventeenth century also commissioned ceremonial chairs. A 1926 exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London devoted to works of art belonging to these companies included a master's chair with similar grimacing lion headed arms and open scrolled back supplied by Edward Newman for the Joiners' Company in 1754 (illustrated in C.Graham, Ceremonial and Commemorative Chairs in Great Britain, 1994, p.65, pl.84). Correspondence between the Dyers' Company and cabinetmaker Abraham Saunders of Cateaton Street describes their master's chair as 'resembling the pattern of the Master's chair of the Skiners Company', indicating shared ideas and possibly a small circle of cabinetmakers that may have been working for this community.