The inscription on this fine set of candlesticks indicates that these have been presented by the mayors of Amsterdam to a H. Croese E.Z.. He may be identified as Hendrik Croese (23 april 1762-Amsterdam-23 juni 1838), who was only 25 in 1788. His father was called Eduard, hence the inscription 'E Z' (Eduard's Zoon) behind his name. In 1808 Croese would found the Hollandsche Brand- en Levensverzekering Sociëteit, of which he remained a director until 1833.
Croese's portrait by Charles Howard Hodges is kept in the Collection of the Amsterdams Historisch Museum.
This set of six candlesticks was executed in the Dutch Louis XVI style of the late 18th Century. This style which returned to symmetry and classical motifs originated in France as a reaction to the Rococo. It was further stimulated by excavations in the Roman towns Pompeii and Herculaneum in the 1740s and 1750s, initiated by well-off English and French amateur-archaeologists known as 'dilletanti'.
These excavations have been a major source of inspiration. The longing for the glorious era of the reign of Louis XIV, also known as 'La Grande Siècle, made the French apply classical motifs in a much more vivid, decorative way than the English, who developed a more archaeologically style of Neo-Classicism. It took the classical revival about twenty years to surpress the naturalistic Rococo. The 1760s saw a transitional style, but soon after the French monarchy had adopted it as the official national style, the French Neo-Classicism triumphed around 1775. At first the Dutch followed the French but after 1790 the ridged and archaeological English style became popular in Holland.
Most of the ornamentation of this time appeared in laurel and beaded bands, garland swags, ribbons, trophies, (portrait)medallions, small rosettes, column-shaped feet and stems.