This chair is of the same model as a celebrated example from the collection of Percival D. Griffiths at Sandridgebury, Hertfordshire, (Symonds, loc. cit.). The latter chair was part of the Griffiths sale, in these Rooms, 11 May 1939, lot 285 and again 7 April 1983, lot 155.
This armchair can be firmly attributed to the Clerkenwell workshop of Giles Grendey, who lived for an astonishingly long time - 1693-1780. The attribution of the present pair to Grendey is primarily based on a labelled set from Gunton Park, Norfolk, and which differs only in having scrolled rather than paw feet (C. Gilbert, Pictorial Dictionary of Marked London Furniture 1700-1840, London, 1996, p. 243, fig. 437). The attribution to Grendey's workshop is strengthened by the presence of the stamp of 'WH', very probably for William House, employed by Grendey from 14 April 1747 (G. Beard and C. Gilbert, eds., Dictionary of English Furniture Makers, Leeds, 1986, pp. 371-2).
A number of chairs from Grendey's workshop bear the stamp of his journeymen. A pair of side chairs of a known Grendey model also stamped 'WH' were sold Christie's New York, 9 October 1993, lot 354. An armchair of precisely the same model as the present pair, and also stamped 'WH' was sold Christie's New York, 13 April 2000, lot 188 ($95,000).
CHAIRS OF THIS MODEL
It is impossible to be certain whether all the chairs of this model had flowerheads on the bottom arm-support terminals, as well as the upper. Some retain the lower flowerheads but others are upholstered over and may have originally had them.
Other examples of library chairs include:
1. The Percival Griffiths chair, referred to above, and illustrated in Symonds, loc.cit.
2. The Ward chair illustrated in Cescinsky, Connoisseur, loc. cit.
3. A pair in the collection of Henry Hirsch Esq., sold in these Rooms, 22 March 1934, lot 84.
4. One illustrated in Cescinsky, Eighteenth Century, loc. cit,
5. A pair from the collection of Henry Nyburg, Esq., sold Sotheby's London, 2 December 1966, lot 154.
6. A pair, previously with Partridge, sold Sotheby's New York, 29 October 1988, lot 382 ($220,000).
7. A pair sold Christie's New York, 27 January 1990, lot 105 ($264,000).
8. A single chair sold Christie's New York, 13 April 2000, lot 188 ($110,500)
9. A chair from the collection of Dr Frank Crozer Knowles, upholstered very similarly to Griffiths's chair (no. 1 above), and possibly once associated with it, sold Christie's New York, 22 October 1988, lot 234, and resold Christie's New York, 18 October 2001, lot 232 ($70,500).