Lot 37
  • 37

Catherine The Great: An important set of sixteen George III silver candlesticks, Thomas Heming, London, 1776

100,000 - 150,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • silver
  • 28.5cm, 11 1/2 in high
the circular bases with overlapping leaf-tip borders, rising to three flowerheads at intervals, acanthus and overlapping bud decorated baluster stems, campana-shaped sconces, detachable circular nozzles, mainly stamped with the number '3'


Catherine the Great, purchased in 1777 and allocated to the Governor of Tula
Paul I, Mikhailovsky Palace, St. Petersburg
By descent at the Winter Palace
Sold under Soviet rule, probably early 1920s
Private UK Collection


Baron A. Foelkersam, Inventories of the Silver of the Court of His Imperial Highness, Volume II, St. Petersburg, 1907, p.252
British Art Treasures from Russian Imperial Collections in the Hermitage, edited by Brian Allen and larissa Dukelskaya, Yale Centre for British Art, 1996, pp.131-32
E. Alfred Jones, The Old English Plate of the Emperor of Russia, London, 1909, pp. lvj & 92-92, pl. XLVI
N.M. Penzer, 'English Plate at the Hermitage, Part 2,' The Connoisseur, London, January 1959, p.18, fig. 25

Comparative literature:
Marina Lopato, 'English silver in St. Petersburg,' British art treasures from Russian imperial collections in the Hermitage, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1996, pp. 131-132

Catalogue Note

Under Catherine the Great, Russia was divided in the mid 1770s into 11 provinces, a number which was increased to 40 by 1796. Governors were appointed by the Empress to each of the provinces and each was allocated a silver table service befitting his viceregal dignity. In all, four, possibly five, of these services were ordered from London, beginning in 1774 with one for the Province of Tver, followed by another for Volynsk; these cost not less than 125,000 roubels apiece. The next, in May 1776, was for Tula, about 100 miles south of Moscow, whose governor at the time was General Mikhail Krechetnikov (1729-1793); while the fourth was for Yaroslav. These latter two, which appear to have cost up to twice as much as the first, arrived at St. Petersburg in May 1777, when customs payments for them were made amounting to 6,240 roubles.

Following Catherine’s death in November 1796, her son, Tsar Paul I, recalled all the governors’ silver services to St. Petersburg for his own use. Writing in 1909 in The Old English Plate of the Emperor of Russia (p. lvj), E. Alfred Jones noted that, ‘Of the Tula service there still remain [in St. Petersburg] thirty-eight fine tall candlesticks by Thomas Heming, 1776-77; a rare octofoil shape of salver, by John Carter; and eight charming little salvers with pierced borders by Robert Jones and John Schofield [sic], all of the same date, 1776-77. In addition to these there are eight oval and twenty-three round dishes of silver, date 1776-77 and 1777-78.’

After sales in the early Soviet era, the Hermitage now retains only two of the Heming candlesticks and five dishes. Of the remainder, two oval meat dishes and a pair of oval meat dishes, George Heming & William Chawner, 1776, were sold at Sotheby’s, New York, on 13 October 2007, lots 109 and 110; a single meat dish, Heming & Chawner, 1776, was sold at Sotheby’s, Paris, on 25 November 2010, lot 189; and fifteen second course dishes, Heming & Chawner, 1776, were sold at Sotheby’s, New York, on 30 March 2011, lot 571. In addition, eight candlesticks from the service, all Thomas Heming, 1776, were sold at Sotheby’s, London, on 11 November 1993, lot 451.

The present 16 sticks are therefore the largest number to have survived as a group from the Tula service.