This suite of seat furniture and the bench (lot 193) bear witness to the far reaching influence of the English cabinet maker, George Hepplewhite (d.1786), in Europe. Hepplewhite's widow, Alice, published The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Guide, comprising 300 plates, firstly in 1788 which proved to be a great success. In 1789, a second edition appeared and in 1794, a third edition in which some revised drawings appeared. It is the latter version that was available all over Europe and influenced many craftsmen in various countries. Even though it seems unlikely that Hepplewhite created all the designs himself, his wife put together a wonderful compilation of what was the most popular neoclassical taste at the time.
The book enjoyed considerable popularity in Italy, especially in Tuscany. Chair makers such as Giovacchino Paoli and Giovanni Toussaint, supplied various shield back (such as in the present lot) chairs to the Grand Ducal Court in Florence circa 1795-1798, many of which are now in the Pitti Palace (see Enrico Colle, I Mobile di Palazzo Pitti: il Primo Periodo Lorenese 1737-1799, Florence, 1920, pp. 182-187).
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