This majestic porphyry obelisk was most certainly inspired by the Obelisk at the Piazza del Quirinale, Rome, erected in 1786 by Pope Pius VI The latter obelisk was most probably executed after the model by silversmith Luigi Valadier (1726-1785) whom Pius VI had appointed Cavaliere and Court goldsmith in 1779, as well as later named superintendent of the restoration of the bronzes in the papal collections.
Valadier was a 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. Valadier's clientèle counted the Borghese, Chigi and Braschi-Onesti families.
A comparable jasper obelisk is in the Hermitage Museum, St-Petersburg (E.M. Effimova, Russian Stoneware in the Hermitage Museum, Lenningrad, 1961, pl. 3). Further related obelisks include a pair in the Palace of Pavlosk (ill. A. Gouzanov, 'La Restauration du Palais de Pavlovsk', L'Estampille L'Objet D'Art, May 1995, p. 62), a further pair from the estate of Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis, sold at Sotheby's, New York, 23 April 1996, lot 323, and another, sold more recently at Christie's, New York, 3 April 2002, lot 455.