Designed in the Chinese manner expounded by Sir William Chambers in his Designs for Chinese Buildings, Furniture, Dresses, Machines and Utensils of 1757, these exotic 'pagoda' chairs are derived from chair-leg patterns in Thomas Chippendale's Director of 1762, where nine such designs are published. This design directly copies eighteenth century prototypes, a number of which have been recorded with minor variations in design. A closely related example from the Leopold Hirsch collection is illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, eds., The Dictionary of English Furniture, London, 1924, p.246, fig.123. Another pair of side chairs of this basic model was sold Christie's New York, 21 October 1999, lot 177 ($46,000).
These chairs are stamped 'BRISTOL PHILLIPS' which may be the mark of E. Phillips, a furniture 'Depot' listed on Union Street in the 1880s. Alternatively, Messrs Phillips & Sons Ltd. were furniture and carpet specialists who may have been responsible for manufacturing these chairs. The Bristol Record Office retains their daybooks from 1912-1913 and 1939-1943. They went out of business in the 1960s.