Rare in form and design, this set of sidechairs embodies the spirit and essence of the classical period with influences from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt combined into a creative expression of furniture design.
A drawing attributed to Duncan Phyfe that accompanied an 1816 bill to Philadelphia banker Charles N. Bancker, illustrates a chair with identical croisillion scroll back with central rectangular tablet (see lot 494); this X-form back is based upon the 1802 London Chairmakers' and Carvers' Book Prices (pl. 3, fig. 5), which outlines the labor costs for chairs with "ANGULAR SPLATS IN COMMON HOLLOW BACKS," option five being for a "GRECIAN Cross, lapp'd in the middle, and tenon'd at the ends....0.0.4 [four pence]." Thomas Hope, in his Household Furniture and Interior Decoration also illustrated a criosillion back (pl. xi, fig. 3, 1807), which remained popular for the next two decades, appearing in La Mesangere's 1827 plates from Meubles et Objets de Gout (plate 623).
Duncan Phyfe, Honore Lannuier, and other prominent cabinetmakers produced chairs with croisillion backs. The figured mahogany tablets in the crest and legs and the lightwood veneer in the stiles add a dimension of contrasting woods employed by craftsman such as Lannuier. The distinctive carved lion's feet also add a level of sophistication as well as expense to this set of chairs. This set is the finest example of this form, surpassing related chairs in execution, design, overall appearance and rarity of number.