This fabulous 'Chinese Chippendale' chair formed part of a dragon-crested suite commissioned for a Chinese-papered bedroom apartment at Lulworth Castle, Dorset by Edward Weld (d.1761). Addorsed dragons guard Venus-shell badges carved on the serpentined cresting; while reeds lap the zig-zag fretted uprights of the railed back, whose 'Chinese Double Brac'd Paleing'. Corresponds to a pattern in William Halfpenny's 'Twenty New Designs of Chinese Lattice', 1750. The same fret pattern originally filled the seat-rail. The chair is likely to be contemporary with the dragon-guarded Chinese-temple bed supplied in 1754 for Badminton House, Gloucestershire by the Berkeley Square cabinet-maker William Linnell (d. 1765). A Lulworth rainwater pipe also bears the date 1754, in which year Thomas Chippendale issued The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director. Weld employed the Blandford family of architects, builders etc. of John, William and Benjamin Bastard, and one of his letters written to John Bastard in 1754 concerns the 'green mohair for the best chamber' (Weld MSS in Dorset Record Office). Furniture designs feature in the surviving sketch-books of the Blandford Bastards; and this Lulworth set has been attributed to the sculptor carver William Bastard (d. 1772), who furnished the Grand Jury Room at Dorchester in 1754. It is possible that this set was provided for a bedroom, while the matching set, with flowered seat-rails, stood in the adjoining dressing-room. The same firm, listed as John & William Bastard are noted as supplying furniture in 1756 to John, 4th Duke of Bedford and marked 'To go to Camp': the Duke was in camp as a militia commander during the summer of 1756 (C. Gilbert & G. Beard, eds. The Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, Leeds, 1986, p. 48.
A related pair of chairs, together with four flowered-rail chairs, was sold anonymously, Christie's London, 5 December 1991, lots 232-234).