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    Sale 7545

    A Town House in Mayfair

    20 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 602

    A PAIR OF WILLIAM IV BRONZE OIL-LAMP BASES

    CIRCA 1830, IN THE MANNER OF THOMAS MESSENGER

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF WILLIAM IV BRONZE OIL-LAMP BASES
    CIRCA 1830, IN THE MANNER OF THOMAS MESSENGER
    Each formed as a leaf-wrapped twisted tree trunk issuing from the entwined tails of three water-spouting dolphins, on triform plinth, adapted for electricity, with shades, the spouting water probably original
    29 in. (73.5 cm.) high, excluding shades (2)


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    These tripodic candlesticks are designed in 'antique' Grecian bronze fashion and evoke the nature-deity Venus as symbolised by a 'fountain', which is here represented by water-spouting dolphins embowed on 'altar' plinths. Their form derives from an engraving for a funerary monument by Piranesi in his Vasi of 1778.

    Thomas Messenger and Sons, of whom the chasing of this pair of lamps is particularly characteristic, were primarily lighting manufacturers with a metal foundry in Birmingham, opening a branch in London in 1826 (C. Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, Leeds, 1998, p. 606, cat. no. 733). The firm commenced as manufacturers of metal furniture mounts, and traded from 1826-27 as 'Manufacturers of Chandeliers, Tripods and Lamps, of every description in bronze and ormolu' (E. Moncrieff, 'Argand Lamps', Antique Collector, February 1990, p. 47).

    The dolphin motif was also adopted for chandeliers by the court lamp-manufacturer William Collins, following the establishment of his Strand warerooms about 1808. One such chandelier commissioned from Collins about 1822 and manufactured by Messrs. Johnstone Brooke and Company of New Street Square for Northumberland House, London is now at Syon House, Middlesex. However his most celebrated dolphin torchère is that presented in 1813 in Nelson's memory to Greenwich Hospital and now shown at Brighton Pavilion (C. Musgrave, Regency Furniture, London, 1961, p. 43).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Provenance

    Acquired from Piers von Westenholz, London