The backrest to the present set of chairs is almost identical to the backrest of a chair at Arundel Castle, Sussex, illustrated in Ralph Edwards and Percy Macquoid, The Dictionary of English Furniture, London: Country Life Limited, 1954, vol. I, p. 293, fig. 213. The chair at Arundel Castle is centered by an oval patera to the cresting rail as opposed to a wheat sheaf, and appears to have more pendant husks to the cresting rail than those on the present chairs.
A main feature of the Arundel Castle chair and the present chairs is the use of a pair of pierced scrolls to the base of the splat, a design for which can be found in Thomas Malton's 'Complete Treatise on Perspective', 1775, plate XXXIV. Fig. 131. Furthermore, the present chair has similarly shaped piercings as the Malton design. See Elizabeth White, Pictorial Dictionary of British 18th Century Furniture Design, The Printed Sources, Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club Ltd., p. 85.
Another design source for the backrest of the chairs is from the Gillows firm, found in the sketch books of 1779, and illustrated in Susan Stuart, Gillows of Lancaster and London, 1730-1840, Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club Ltd., vol. I, p. 153, plate. 101. Stuart's research indicates that over four-hundred 'fan back' chairs were made between 1783-87, the vast majority of which had arched cresting rails, and 'were made in the common way, middle way, and the best manner. For customers who could afford the best type the carving might include backs moulded and the balusters carved with wheat-ear and a ribbon'. (Stuart, op.cit. p. 153.)
It is interesting to note that Gillows firm is recorded as working at Arundel Castle.
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