Samuel Whitbread was heir to the Whitbread brewery and member of a reform Whig group in the House of Commons called 'Friends of the People'. His father had purchased the Southill estate, Bedfordshire, from Lord Torrington in 1791 and he endeavored to make major renovations to the house and estate after his father's death in 1796. Whitbread employed Henry Holland (d.1806) and Charles Heathcote Tatham (d. 1842) to introduce the Empire or Regency style to Southill they also executed for George IV at Carlton House.
Related sphinx chenets were executed by the Parisian bronze-founder, Pierre Philippe Thomire, after models by the sculptor Louis Simon Boizot, while this same lion model featured on chenets supplied in 1806 by André-Antoine Ravrio (d. 1806) for the château de Fontainebleau, and on a fender supplied in 1805 by the bronze-founder Claude Galle for the Grand Trianon, Versailles (J.-P. Samoyault, Pendules et bronzes d'ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, Paris, 1989, p. 255, cat. no. 254 and H. Ottomeyer, P. Pröschel et al., Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986, vol. I, figs. 5.4.6. and 5.4.5.).