The design of the stools is derived from a drawing by Charles Heathcote Tatham of an ancient Roman marble altar executed during his visit to Rome and the Italian Campagna between 1794 and 1796 and published in Etchings of Ornamental Architecture drawn from the Originals in Rome and Other Parts of Italy during the years 1794, 1795 and 1796. The pattern of these stools relates to plate 46.
This pair of benches, and the following lot, originally stood in the Subscription Room of the Knightsbridge premises of Tattersalls, the bloodstock auctioneers. Edmund Tattersall (d. 1898) joined his uncle 'Old Dick' at 'The Corner' in 1851. Through the mid-1860s he concentrated on the redevelopment of Tattersalls' new premises situated at the eastern apex of the Brompton Road and Knightsbridge. The new building was designed by Charles Freeman and built by Messrs. Holland (who executed these benches). The Subscription Room, 60' long by 30' wide was a tour de force: lit from above by three domes, the floor laid out in symmetrical patterns of tesselated stone. Some of the original furnishings were described as consisting 'mainly of long seats, upholstered in green morocco leather, placed along the walls' (P. Willett, The Story of Tattersalls, London, 1987, p. 43)
Holland and Sons were among the most distinguished furniture producers of the Victorian period, starting as Taprell and Holland at the beginning of the 19th Century, and becoming Holland and Sons in 1843. They supplied the furniture for many of the London clubs including the Athenaeum, the Reform Club and the Oxford and Cambridge Club. They took over premises in Mount Street in 1851 and their archives dating to 1942, when the firm ceased trading, are preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum.