The design for the splat is taken from plate XII of the 1754 edition of Chippendale's Director. Philadelphia chairs with this splat design are often attributed to the cabinetmaker James Gillingham, based on a side chair in the collections of the White House with this basic design (but without the incised stiles and crest rail) that bears Gillingham's label (see Betty Monkman, The White House: Its Historic Furnishings and First Familes (New York, 2000) p. 237).
This exceptional pair of chairs is part of a larger set that originally comprised at least ten. Other examples from the set are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (chair IV, see Morrison Heckscher, American Furniture (New York, 1985) no. 56), in the MFA Boston (chair V, see Hipkiss, Eighteenth-Century American Arts: The M. and M. Karolik Collection (Boston, 1941) no. 88), and chairs VI and IX are in the White House (Heckscher, p. 103). Another from this set was exhibited in the Girl Scout Loan Exhibition (no. 641), and still another was advertised by Joe Kindig in 1936 (see Antiques, May 1936, frontispiece). One chair from this pair is marked X, and the second number is obscured by an old jelly label affixed to the back rail. A closely related armchair is in the collection of the Winterthur Museum (see Downs, American Furniture: Queen Anne and Chippendale Periods (New York, 1952) no. 41.
While the provenance of this pair of chairs is not known, they likely were purchased by Caroline Foulke from Joe Kindig, from whom she purchased numerous important Philadelphia furnishings during the 1940's and 1950's. Nearly identical chairs are illustrated by Kindig (The Philadelphia Chair 1685-1785 (The Historical Society of York County, 1978) no. 56 and in the above noted advertisement) and by Albert Sack (Fine Points of Furniture (New York, 1950) p. 38, illustrated as "Best").