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These rather wacky ‘Grotto’ chairs were manufactured in Venice in response to the 19th century interior design craze for Grotto furniture.

The trend originated with the European nobility of the 18th and 19th centuries, who designed and built whole rooms as shell-encrusted pavilions, to resemble grottos.

The 3ft 6in (1.08m) high chairs, crafted in the form of a crab and decorated with a polychrome painted finish, are attributed to the Venetian firm Pauly et Cie, the leading maker of Grotto furniture in Europe in the late 19th century.

The pair is priced at £32,000 from London dealership the Mayfair Gallery.