The Roman bronze sacrificial 'altar' tripod provided the inspiration for the fretted-trellis splats of these settees, whose figurative Grecian tablets celebrate lyric poetry with scenes of sacrifices at love's altar.
This 'tripod' splat form, probably invented in the mid-1780s by the Rome-trained architect Sir John Soane (d. 1837), featured in a 'Parlour Chair' pattern, with a tablet of youthful sacrificing putti, that Thomas Sheraton included in The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book, 1793 (pl. XXV).
Like Sheraton's 'parlour' pattern, foliage-capped columns accompany these settee's 'tripod' splats; while other details of their compass-fronted frames appear in another Sheraton plate for 'Drawing Room Chairs' in the French antique manner. He also noted: 'These chairs are finished in white and gold, or the ornaments may be japanned ... [with] figures in the tablets ... Chairs of this kind have an effect which far exceeds any conception we can have of them from an uncoloured engraving, or even of a coloured one' (ibid., pl. XXXII).
A pair of related armchairs with painted tablet toprails above a trellis pattern splat flanked by Corinthian columns was sold by Dr. Norman Gay, in these Rooms, 28 June 1984, lot 19 (£9,720).