This pair of chairs are examples of the 'picturesque' style invented by artists, architects and ornemenistes such as Juste-Auréle Meissonier (d. 1750) and Gilles-Marie Oppenordt (d. 1742) and praised by the artist William Hogarth in his Analysis of Beauty, 1753. This style relates to Chippendale's early 1750s 'French chair' sign at his St. Martin's Lane establishment and his 1753 engraved 'French Chair' patterns illustrated in the first edition of the Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker's Director of 1754.
These chair frames are virtually identical to the celebrated suite of mahogany furniture that was acquired by the antiquarian Sir William Cunliffe Brooks, M.D. of Barlow Hall, Manchester in the late 19th Century. The suite was subsequently acquired by the collector Sir John Ward, K.V.C.O. for Dudley House, London after Brooks' death in 1890. It thereafter formed part of the impressive collections of J. P. Morgan, Walter P. Chrysler and Paul Mellon. The Brooks suite, comprising a pair of armchairs, twelve side chairs, and at least two stools, is slightly more boldy carved and lacks the carved chairback frame on the present pair (see J. F. Hayward, 'An English Suite with Embroidered Covers', The Connoisseur, March 1964, vol. CLV, pp. 146-150). A pair of stools of this pattern was sold from the collection of Samuel Messer, Esq. (+), Christie's, London, 5 December 1991, lot 57.
A nearly identical pair of giltwood chairs acquired from Partridge Fine Arts Ltd., London and possibly from the same set, was sold by a Washington D.C. Collector, Sotheby's, New York, 23 January 1988, lot 147. Another pair in mahogany, of the Brooks pattern was sold from the Collection of Joseph and Laverne Schieszler, Christie's, New York, 21 October 1999, lot 113.
A suite of furniture supplied to 1st Lord Clive for his London home at Berkeley Square is similarly conceived with shaped carved crestings. This suite was sold from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Saul P. Steinberg, Sotheby's, New York, 26 May 2000, lot 268 and has since been attributed to the London cabinet-maker Charles Arbuckle and is discussed in O. Fairclough, 'In the Richest and Most Elegant Manner: A Suite of Furniture for Clive of India', Furniture History, 2000, pp. 102-114.