P. Macquoid, A History of English Furniture, The Age of Mahogany, 1906, pl. 1
With their 'poetic' Indian masks adorned with foliate headdresses, lambrequins and 'broken' cabriole legs inspired by the designs of Jean Bérain, together with their Baroque scrolling, 'waisted' arms, these chairs are related to the celebrated suite at Houghton Hall, Norfolk (see: National Gallery of Art, Washington, 'The Treasure Houses of Britain', Exhibition Catalogue, Washington, 1985, no. 154). As Gervase Jackson-Stops argued in his footnote, the Houghton suite, with its entwined Cs, although traditionally associated with Kent, can tentatively be attributed to the Royal cabinet-makers James Moore and John Gumley, conceivably for James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos' Palace, at Cannons, Middlesex. It is interesting to note, therefore, that both the Shobden Court ocffer in the Victoria & Albert Museum (W.33-1948) and the Stowe coffer (sold in these Rooms, 9 July 1992, lot 160) are attributed to Moore and Gumley and are carved with similar 'poetic' Indian masks. Further related scrolled Indian-mask chairs were commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Carlisle (d. 1738) for the State Bedroom at Castle Howard, Yorkshire. A similar gilt-gesso side table from the collection of the Duke of Devonshire is illustrated in P. Macquoid, op.cit.,, p. 30. The scrolled acanthus-carved pad foot, however, is paralleled upon the gilt-gesso side table bearing the arms of John Meller and supplied in 1776 by John Belchier at a cost of ¨14.0.0. for the state apartments at Erddig, Clwyd (illustrated in R. Edwards, The Shorter Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1964, repr. 1977, p. 583, fig. 23).
These chairs were acquired by the 'very wealthy merchant and manufacturer' Philip John Miles (d. 1845) for his newly commissioned Leigh Court, Bristol. The Member of Parliament for Bristol, Miles engaged Thomas Hopper circa 1814 to design Leigh Court in the heavy Grecian taste. His antiquarianism is clearly evident in this 1845 watercolour of the Morning Room, where Miles happily juxtaposed 'fashionable' Regency furniture (for instance, the set of armchairs attributed to George Smith, one of which is now at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and illustrated in the Treasure Houses of Britain Exhibition, no. 526) with the finest Georgian and Georgian-inspired giltwood furniture (for instance, the Kentian-style chair visible by the fireplace and also illustrated in P. Macquoid, op.cit., p. 43). In this watercolour, it is just possible to make out their 'turkey work' upholstery, with tulip medallions and bold colourings of red and blue, clearly revealing the 'antiquarian' approach of dressing these chairs and the corresponding footstool in Regency taste. Their present sage-green velvet upholstery reverts back to their original coverings, traces of which were found upon the seat-rails. Small fragments of the 19th Century turkey-work upholstery remain as well.