Large candelabra of this and similar designs became one of R. & S. Garrard & Co's. most popular productions during the middle years of the 19th century. Descriptions of the firm’s silver shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851, for instance, are brief but clear enough to give a good idea of some of their grandest pieces: ‘7. Table-candlestick in the style of Queen Anne, with group of boys supporting the nozzle. 8. Table candlestick, in the same style, with flat masks on shaft. 9. The same, hexagonal shape. . . . 14. Candelabrum, with six arms, in the renaissance style.’ (Official Catalogue, London, 1851, vol. II, p. 688, class 23, no. 98) The ‘flat masks on shaft’ of one of these candlesticks were usually Classical profiles. But those on the present examples are most uncommon, being busts of four renowned English poets: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Bunyan and Milton. From where the designer drew his idea to honour these luminaries is unknown but by the 1850s scholars had long been drawn to the study of their work. By 1855 the subject had become so popular that Mrs. Clara Lucas Balfour (1808-1878), a champion of temperance and author of such works as A Whisper to a Newly Married Pair, was giving lectures to local groups on ‘The important eras of English Literature, and its effects on social advancement.’ She regaled her audiences with choice details and extracts from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Bunyan and Milton as well as many others, including Daniel Defoe and even Lord Byron. As for the overall design and form of these candelabra, the art department at Garrard’s had plenty of prototypes from which to find inspiration. As early as 1829 the firm, which already had a very active interest in acquiring and selling antique silver, had purchased an old French surtout de table made by Elie Pacot in Lille early in the 18th century which had probably belonged to the Duke of Marlborough. These objects, masterpieces of high Regence workmanship, served as models for Garrard’s artists, first in the manufacture of banqueting dishes and tureens and then adapted to suit candlesticks, candelabra and centrepieces. For further comment, see Sotheby’s, Important Silver, Gold Boxes & Objects of Vertu, 29 November 2006, lot 74.