The bold design of this magnificent pair of hall chairs is emblamatic of the birth of Venus. Born from the sea, she floated to shore on a scallop shell, landing in Paphos, Cyprus, one of the principal centers of her worship in antiquity. The dolphins are also a symbol of her birth from the water.
This spectacular model of chair which was for use in halls or garden grottoes/banqueting houses is similar to a model with scallop shaped back and seat originally supplied to Francis Basset, Esq. of Tehidy Park, Cornwall and sold Christie's London, 5 December 1991, lot 217 ($68,145). The influence for this pair of hall armchairs is drawn from Thomas Chippendale's The Gentleman and Cabinet-maker's Director, 1762, third edition, pl. XXIV. The Chippendale drawing further embraces the iconography of Venus with legs carved in the form of dolphins.
A table of matching design in the collection of Danielle Bernini and Raffaele Martinelli is illustrated in World of Interiors, December 1999, p. 149.