Lot 6
  • 6

A pair of George III gilt-bronze two-light candelabra, probably Sheffield, circa 1775

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • gilt-bronze
  • 40cm. high; 1ft. 4in.
the central double urn finial issuing two acanthus scroll candle arms with guilloche blocks terminating in round leaf-cast nozzles with leaf-bordered drip pans, on a tapering fluted column standing on a concave square base with leaf-tip border and decorated overall with ram's heads, laurel swags and paterae, the candelabra arms detachable allowing for use as candlesticks

Catalogue Note

English candelabra made in ormolu are rare, and the distinctive form of the central support of these candelabra, a slightly hourglass-shaped fluted column headed by ram’s heads, is based on ‘Adam’ designs for silver and Old Sheffield Plate candlesticks, several examples of which, dated 1778, are illustrated in Frederick Bradbury, History of Old Sheffield Plate, Sheffield, 1983, p.222. A set of four plate candlesticks by John Winter of Sheffield c. 1774 of the same height with shafts and bases of identical design, are in the collection of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s house in Virginia.

The scrolling candle arms are likely to have been inspired by the ormolu work of the metalwork designer and entrepreneur Matthew Boulton (1728-1809), notably his model of ormolu two-branched ‘lion faced candlesticks’, examples of which are in Soho House, Birmingham, the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, and the collection of the Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace (the latter illustrated in Nicholas Goodison, Matthew Boulton: Ormolu, London 2002, p.188, fig.135).

In addition to silver plate candlesticks, gilded plate candlesticks of the same model can be found mainly in continental European collections. This suggests that such gilded pieces were made for export as they are not commonly seen in England. There is no record of another pair of ormolu candelabra of this model but it is likely that they were cast from the same master models used for silver and plate examples. Although the Boulton influence raises the possibility that the present candelabra may have been made in Birmingham, the unquestionably contemporary construction differs from Boulton’s as does the gilding. The close correlation to published Old Sheffield Plate designs, together with the survival of a number of almost identical candlesticks made in Sheffield suggests that they were almost certainly manufactured in Sheffield.