The serpentined chair, enriched with Roman acanthus, displays a Venus badge of a beribboned and scale-imbricated shell above its flowered and fretted splat; while more flowers issue from scalloped cartouches on the volute-scrolled legs. Its French 'picturesque' ornament relates to that of clock-patterns plagiarized from Johann Friedrich Luach and published in Batty Langley's The City and Country Builder's and Workman's Treasury of Designs, 1740. Its form and decoration also relate to chair patterns issued in William de la Cour's First Book of Ornament, 1741 (E. White, Pictorial Dictionary of British 18th Century Furniture Design, Woodbridge, 1990, p. 59). A similar crest-rail features on an armchair in the Kunstindustrimuseet, Oslo (illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1954, rev. ed., p. 277, fig. 157). The crest-rail pattern also features on a set of six chairs that are likely to have been commissioned in the early 1740s by John, 2nd Earl Poulett (d. 1764) shortly after he inherited Hinton House, Somerset (sold by Earl Poulett, Sotheby's London, 1 November 1968, lot 58).
A set of six chairs of this model was exhibited by H.M. Lee & Son, at the Antique Dealers' Fair, 1924, and illustrated in The Connoisseur, July 1924, p. 183.
This chair relates to a group of chairs that have traditionally been identified with the work of Giles Grendey (d. 1780). The Hinton House set of chairs, mentioned above, are attributed to Grendey on the basis of the Gunton Park set and another set of chairs which are labelled by Grendey and illustrated in C. Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840, Leeds, 1996, figs. 437 and 438. They have similar legs to the present lot, as does the cabinet-on-stand, which was attributed to Grendey and sold anonymously, in these Rooms, 13 November 1997, lot 36.
This chair was formerly in the possession of the antique collector-dealer, Sir George Donaldson.