The epitome of the French taste during the 1780s, the elgantly-curved back of this cabriole chair is a refinement of a design that subsequently appeared in A. Hepplewhite & Co., The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide, 1788, pl. 6. In the design the Apollo sunflower fills the entire back but in execution it was reduced to a Palmyra-type central motif with stylised waved sun-rays radiating from it.
A set of six chairs with very similar back and cabriole legs was sold by the Executors of the late Mrs Robert Tritton, Godmersham Park, Kent, Christie's house sale, 6-9 June 1983, lot 52.
The cabriole-legged type is rarer than those of slightly later date with square tapering legs, as on the Hepplewhite design. Hepplewhite in fact comments that the design is particularly suitable for 'painted or japanned work'. A straight-legged japanned chair is illustrated in R. Edwards and P. Macquoid, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, rev. ed., 1954, vol. I, p. 299, fig. 236. It was sold by David Style, Esq., Wateringbury Place, Kent, Christie's house sale, 31 May-2 June 1978, lot 271.
A further related example was sold in these Rooms, 8 July 1993, lot 18