possibly Christie's, London, 12 June 2006, lot 113, as a pair
These candlesticks would have been purchased from Thomas Heming, Principal Goldsmith to George III, for Lord Arundell's new country house, New Wardour Castle, Wilshire, which was built to the design of the architect James Paine (1717-1789) between 1770 and 1776. Old Wardour Castle, which had been purchased by Sir Thomas Arundell of Lanherne in 1544, was heavily damaged in 1643 following a brief siege by a Parliamentary Army under the command of Sir Edward Hungerford.
The present two candlesticks appear to be two from a set of four which were sold at Sotheby's, London on 3 December 1964 (lot 157). In that sale catalogue part of the description reads, 'one of the drip pans by another maker,’ conforming with the present pair where one of the two nozzles is struck with the mark of William Pitts and London hallmarks. The four appear to have been split into two pairs by the time they appeared at Christie’s, London, 12 June 2006 (lot 113). It should be noted that one of the bases of the present pair is fully marked: William Pitts, London, 1822. This was precisely the period when the 10th Baron Arundell is known to have acquired plate for his collection, including a silver-gilt replica (Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, London, 1820) of the historic ‘Glastonbury Cup,’ an early 17th century wood tankard now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which for many years had been owned by the Arundells. There is little doubt that the Pitts workshop was one of several which Rundell’s called upon to fulfil special commissions.
It is not known how many sticks were in the original set, but the dots or notches on the undersides of the figure stems in the present examples suggest that it was at least six.
The columns of the present candlesticks are each formed as the figure of Flora, the festive goddess of fertility, flowers and Spring. She is depicted as a caryatid enslaved by love, bearing a cornucopia, which forms the upper stem and supports the drip-pan and socket. The candlesticks also reflect the antique 'columbarium' (vase chamber) fashion introduced in the 1760s by the Rome-trained architects William Chambers (1723- 1796) and Robert Adam (1728-1792). Their festive krater urns are enwreathed by laurels and palms, while Apollonian laurels also entwine their tazze, serpentined in cornucopiae horns-of-plenty from palm-branches, as well as their tripod wave-scrolled plinths. Although uncommon, almost identical examples were also produced in ormolu (see Christie’s, London, 10 December 2009, lot 771).
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