The elegant frames of these 'Grecian' parlour chairs, with Ionic tablets carved with Venus-shell badges between wave-scrolled volutes, relate to hall and dining chairs supplied in 1810 for Papworth Hall, Cambridgeshire by the celebrated St. Paul's Church Yard 'Upholder' George Oakley (d. 1841) (A. E. Reveirs-Hopkins, 'Sheraton Period Furniture for the Small Collector', Old Furniture Magazine, vol. 3, 1928, pp. 220-228, figs.7-9). Their shell carved top rails relate to the hall chairs produced by Gillows which feature a shell carved back. The shell-patterned back appears on hall chairs stamped by Gillows of Lancaster and illustrated in V. Slowe, Treasures from Abbot Hall, Kendal, Kendal, 1989, p. 6).
COLONEL NORMAN COLVILLE, M.C. (1893-1974)
Colonel Colville was an exceptional connoisseur-collector of the years immediately following the First World War, in which he had been wounded by poison gas. His superb collection of English furniture had a particular emphasis on seat-furniture, and he was very unusual among his contemporaries for his interest in upholstery beyond needlework, including magnificent decayed survivals of the grandest late 17th century coverings. His collection was well known to Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards, compilers of the Dictionary of English Furniture in the 1920s, and many illustrations of his furniture were used in those volumes. That his collection was considered from an early date to be particularly strong in examples of chairs and upholstery is shown by an article by Margaret Jourdain devoted exclusively to seat-furniture in Country Life in October 1923. Margaret Jourdain described the collection as 'a remarkable gathering of fine and individual furniture'. More recently the late John Cornforth described Colonel Colville as 'a connoisseur with an exceptional eye for works of art'.