Details & Cataloguing

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A George IV gilt-bronze nine light candelabrum, circa 1825
after the Antique, with opaque glass shades
20cm. high, 115cm wide; 7ft.2½ in., 3ft.9¼ in.
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Acquired by William Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire (1790-1858) for The Painted Hall, Chatsworth;
Thence by descent until sold Sotheby’s, Chatsworth: The Attic Sale, 5-7 October 2010, lot 484 (£67,250).


Chatsworth Inventory, 1844, p. 130 in The Painted Hall;
Chatsworth Inventory, 1859, p. 109 in the same room '1 Large Brass Candelabra (sic) supporting lamps';
Chatsworth Inventory, 1892, p. 170 in the same room;
Francis Thompson, A History of Chatsworth, London, 1949, p. 118, pl. 53.

Catalogue Note

This magnificent candelabrum would have been commissioned by the 6th Duke in order to assist his plans of illuminating the rather dark Painted Hall at Chatsworth, the Duke having noted in his handbook, 'It used to be a dark, dismal place'.  Alterations began in 1820 under the direction of Sir Jeffry Wyatville, with the aim of letting more light into the room, he converted a small door in the north-west corner of the room into a large French window and likewise cut two further windows into the same wall. This was followed by further windows above and the installation of a gallery. The large table from the Wanstead sale that is pictured supporting this light was purchased in 1822 and almost certainly the current candelabrum was purchased at this time to light the magnificent baroque ceiling by Laguerre.

Lacking any maker's mark but of significant quality there are a number of possible candidates who are likely to have supplied this magnificent candelabrum to the 6th Duke, namely Hancock and Rixon, William Collins or Thomas Messenger. Of these we know that Hancock and Rixon supplied a considerable quantity of lighting to the Duke which on the whole bears their label.

William Collins of 227 Strand, is possibly the most likely maker, he was a leading supplier of ormolu and brass light fittings whose most significant commission was for the 3rd Duke of Northumberland's London home, Northumberland House which included two magnificent chandeliers and at least two pairs of large candelabra, one pair that are now at Syon Park, Middlesex and a pair of monumental candelabra now at The Bowes Museum, County Durham supplied in 1823. These were commissioned for the first floor parade rooms at Northumberland House in London. They exhibit the same exuberant use of neo-classical motifs such a boldly scrolled acanthus and also feature gadrooned 'wells'.   

The third candidate, Thomas Messenger, began as a maker of furniture mounts, but by 1826 was established as a lamp-maker with premises both in Birmingham and in London. A trade label of circa 1835 indicates that, in partnership with his sons, he produced `Chandeliers, Tripods and Lamps of Every description in bronze and ormolu. Among Messenger's clients was the 4th Duke of Newcastle, who on a visit to Birmingham in 1838 commissioned three pairs of Antique style lamps based on an engraving by Piranesi (see Jessica Rutherford, Country House Lighting 1660-1890, exh. cat., Temple Newsam, 1992, pp. 145-146, No.121 and Christopher Gilbert and Anthony Wells-Cole, The Fashionable Fireplace 1660-1840, Ibid, 1985, p.81, No.76).

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