These handsome shell-enriched chairs, with scallop-fretted crests and seats, are designed in the George II 'antique' manner appropriate for banqueting halls, pavilions and temples. They were commissioned for Wanstead House, Essex (1731) by Sir Richard Child, Viscount Castlemain, later lst Earl Tilney (titled 1718)(d. 1750) and designed to harmonise with the Roman architecture introduced at his Essex villa by Sir Colen Campbell, 'Architect' to Frederick, Prince of Wales (d.1751) and author of Vitruvius Britannicus, 1715. Whereas the Chinese-influenced 'India back' parlour chair had a fretted vase splat, the backs of these chairs are fretted like the 'Italian' sgabelli seat introduced a century previously with the architecture of Inigo Jones.
According to the diarist, John Evelyn, Sir Richard's father Josiah, 'arrived to an estate ('tis said) of £200,000' through the 'management of the East India Company's stock' (F. Kimball, 'Wanstead House, Essex-I', Country Life, 2 December 1933, p.605).
Described in A New History of Essex (1769) as 'one of the noblest houses in England. The magnificence of having four state-chambers, with complete apartments to them, and the ball-room, are superior to anything of the kind in Houghton, Holkham, Blenheim, or Wilton', some sense of its grandeur can be seen in the famous portrait of Lord Castlemaine by William Hogarth now in the the Philadelphia Museum of Art (C. Saumarez Smith, Eighteenth-Century Decoration, New York, 1993, p.94, pl.74).
Whilst no obvious attribution is tenable, parallels can be drawn with the 'Windsor Garden chair' advertised by John Brown of St. Paul's Churchyard.
A related hall chair with dished cartouche back and saddle seat was sold anonymously in these Rooms, 15 April 1999, lot 41 (£3,220).