Illustrating a seemingly identical suite of furniture as a supplement to their 1873 catalogue, the firm of M. and H. Schrenkeisen undoubtedly produced the sofa and chairs offered here. Entitled the "Grand Duchess" suite, the chairs are described as made of walnut and comprising "1 Sofa, 2 Arm Chairs" and "4 Small Ch.," indicating that the group offered here was sold as a discreet set. As Anna Tobin D'Ambrosio has recently demonstrated, the firm produced many variations of the Grand Duchess suite and the version illustrated here is described in one of their price lists with "face on front legs." D'Ambrosio also argues that similar examples in the collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Newark Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art were made by M. and H. Schrenkeisen and retailed, rather than made by, John Jeliff and Company of Newark, New Jersey (D'Ambrosio, "High style, mass-produced American furniture," Antiques (May 1999), pp. 730-733; Venable, American Furniture in the Bybee Collection (Austin, Texas, 1989), cat. 73, pp. 158-159).
According to family tradition, the suite was commissioned for William Wait Snow (1828-1910) by his good friend and business associate, George Pullman, president of the Pullman Car Company, and furnished the music room of Snow's mansion in Ramapo, New York. Snow was born in Massachusetts and, after learning the foundry business in Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and Indiana, finally settled in Ramapo where he was President of Ramapo Iron Works and the chairman of the board for the American Brake Shoe and Foundry Company. In 1876, his company supplied the brake shoes for the Pullman Car Company and Pennsylvania Railroad Company and interestingly, the interiors of the Pullman sleeper cars were furnished in the same blue velvet upholstery seen on the side chairs of the suite offered here (Snow, The Snow-Estes Ancestry (Hillburn, New York, 1939).