This magnificent French-fashioned crystal Venus fountain candelabrum, with its golden ormolu and lily-white marble, served as a vase-garniture for a pier-table or guèridon-stand; and formed part of the eighteenth-century antique taste for Roman Etruscan columbarium vase-chambers popularised by Rome-trained architects such as Robert Adam (d.1792) and Charles Cameron (d.1812), respectively authors of The Ruins of the Palace of the Emperor Diocletian at Spalatro, 1764, and The Baths of the Romans, 1772.
It relates to candelabra designs featured in the Oeuvres of the Parisian décorateur et dessinateur Richard de Lalonde, issued between 1780 and 1796, as well as to one illustrated in the 1792 Journal des Luxus und der Moden; and is likely to have been executed in the 1790s in the St. Petersburg workshop of Vaye. Amongst others of this basic pattern was a pair, incorporating cobalt vases from the Imperial Glassworks, formerly in the possession of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia (sold Sotheby's, Villa Demidoff, Pratolino, 24 April 1969). Related examples are illustrated in I. Sychev, The Russian Chandeliers 1760-1830, 2003, p. 48 and a closely related candelabrum with blue glass column was with Mallett in 1998.
Palms, evoking lyric poetry and triumphal Apollonian festivities in honour of the sun and light god, wreath a bacchic krater-vase; while Arcadian Pans reed rings the candle-branches scrolled rainceaux to its palm-wreathed thyrsus or bacchic wand. Egyptian reeded ribbons wreath its antique-fluted baluster, whose palm-flowered altar-tripod comprises Grecian-fretted and reed-tied pilasters raised by the paws of Apollo's sacred eagle/lion griffin and a marble plinth sunk with a Venus pearled ribbon-guilloche.