These marble-topped tripods, serving multi-purposes as guéridons, torchères or jardinières, are conceived as sacrificial golden-bronze altars evoking festive harvest deities and lyric poetry's triumph. Designed in the Louis XVI 'antique' or 'goût grec' manner, they incorporate lion monopodia, sacred to Bacchus and Ceres, in pilasters, which are garlanded in flowers and imbricated with libation-paterae; while laurels issue from the wave-scrolled ribbon-guilloches wreathing their palm-flowered tazze. Their form derives from the Olympic choragic tripod torches, such as the one that graced the Athenian monument to Dionysus popularly known as the 'Lanthorn of Lysicrates'; and relates in particular to the 'Ara antica', a celebrated Roman marble antiquity with Apollonian griffin feet that was publicised by Giambattista Piranesi's, Antichità d'Albano e di Castel Gandolfo (1764).
The Ara Antica was clearly the starting point for tripods designed by the architect James 'Athenian' Stuart, including the pair originally believed to have stood on the intermediate landings of the Staircase Hall at Spencer House, London, which are now at Althorp. In the 1760s, a Dionysian lion-headed tripod featured on the reconstruction of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates that Stuart introduced to the park at Shugborough, Staffordshire (Susan Weber Soros ed., James 'Athenian' Stuart, New York, 2006, fig. 7-9). The house at Shugborough is also furnished with related Bacchic plinth-supported tripods, whose paterae-imbricated pilasters are fused with ram monopodia (Soros, ibid, fig. 10-73). The latter relate to a garlanded tripodic 'athénienne' with hoof feet, which belonged to the banker Jean-Henri Eberts (d. 1803) and was illustrated in 1773, when it was described as a 'Nouveau Meuble Servant de Console, de Casolette, de Rechaud, de Pot de Fleurs, de Terrasse de Reservoir' (L'Avantcoueur, 27 September 1773). The Eberts tripod, like the present examples, was also wreathed by Vitruvian wave-scrolls (S. Eriksen, Early Neo-Classicism in France, London, 1974, fig. 484).