This inkstand closely relates to a sketch executed by Luigi Valadier (1726-1785) from about 1775-1780 and reproduced here. Both share the same shaped oval base supported by Egyptian sphinxes as well as the arrangement of two circular wells flanking a basin with applied delicate ribbon-tied swags. A later inkstand from the Valadier workshop, circa 1790-95 and executed in ormolu, porphyry and cameos, shares an almost identical arrangement and the same foliate finials, delicate leaves and swag-draped bodies. (Valadier, An Exhibition of Drawings and Works of Art, David Carrit Limited, London 1991, Fig b.7). The same delicate swag appears on the base of a single candelabrum sold anonymously at Christies, New York, 22 May 2002, lot 352 and becomes almost a leitmotif of Valadier's works.
Luigi Valadier was member of a dynasty of goldsmiths, sculptors and craftsmen that began with his father, Andrea, who had come to Rome from Provence in 1714. Luigi was apprenticed to his father until 1754, when he was sent to Paris for further training, and finally took over his father's workshop in 1759. He was the most celebrated Roman metalworker of his period, numbering among his clients the Borghese, Chigi and Braschi-Onesti families, for whom he supplied finely crafted objects in a number of different fields including bronzes, furniture and pietre duri. His son Giuseppe (1762-1839) concentrated more on architectural commissions, but also supplied furniture to Pope Pius VI, Duke Luigi Braschi Onesti and Prince Camillo Borghese.