This set of chairs, together with the bergeres in the preceding lot (420), was probably supplied by Gillows of London and Lancaster. Both Beriah Botfield Senior's brother Thomas, and his son's names appear in the Gillows archives and there is a sketch, dated 1808, for a closely related chair in the Gillows' Estimate Sketch Books. It is called the 'Levens' pattern, after those designed for Levens Hall, Cumbria for the Hon. Fulke Greville Howard (d. 1846), who had come to live at the house in 1807 following his marriage to Mary Howard.
The elegant dining-room chairs are likely to have been commissioned by Beriah Botfield (d. 1813) shortly after his marriage in 1806, and are designed in the French antique style in keeping with the adjoining Drawing-Room furniture (see lot 423). They form part of a suite of Grecian-scrolled chairs which evoke the Arcadian Golden Age with their Ionic-volute arms supported by fruit-issuing 'cornucopiae' or horns-of-plenty, symbolising the presence of the kindly harvest and summer deity Ceres, whose libation patterae hang on the voluted crest rails. Such ornament also recalls the Roman adage: 'Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus' (Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus will starve). The suite, comprising a pair of fireside bergeres, six open armchairs and ten chairs, was upholstered in red morocco leather and supplied together wtih a dining-table that was listed in 1863 as 'A 5 ft mahogany Dining-Table in 3 parts on pillars & claws & 2 loose leaves'. It accompanied 'A 7 ft mahogany & satinwood Sideboard on 2 columns & plinth'.
The chairs palm-flowered and triumphal-arched pillars of their crest-rails are centred by spiral-reeded 'cables', which contributed to the concept of 'Abundance through Labour' and become a patriotic motif. In the early 18th Century, the 'anchor', which served as the allegorical badge of the theological virtue of Hope, was adopted by the City of London as an appropriate motif for the embellishment of their Thames-side Mansion House. It was associated both with a quote of St. Paul's and with the 'spirit of hopefulness' adopted by sea-farers in their journeys. It increased in popularity as a patriotic motif following Admiral Nelson's Nile victory against the French, which helped secure British trade and sea-control in the late 1790s. Anchors therefore featured as an important element in the stately refurbishment of the Mansion House, that took place in the year following the 1802 Amiens Peace Treaty with France (S. Jeffery, The Mansion House, London, 1993, figs. 179 and 169). Thomas Sheraton also issued his furniture trade directory The Cabinet Dictionary in 1803 and included patriotic designs for state furniture alongside the stylish interiors of Carlton House, the Prince of Wales's London mansion. He also designed a triumphal Britannia sea-rule throne, featuring an 'anchor' back supported by Neptune's dolphins alongside his water-controlling trident, and this was engraved in 1806 for his final and uncompleted publication The Cabinet-Maker, Upholsterer and General Artist's Encylopaedia, 1804-1806 and titled a 'Nelson' chair after the Admiral, who had been killed at the battle of Trafalgar (1805). The hollow-fluted and Grecian-scrolled form of the chair legs also relate closely to an 1806 'parlour chair' pattern in the Encyclopaedia (pl. 8 of chairs).
A pair of very similar chairs, with cornucopia arm-supports, was sold by Hilmar Rekston (+), in these Rooms, 5 July 1990, lot 92.