This magnificent pair of candelabra was intended by Stuart to be placed on the chimneypiece in the Painted Room at Spencer House, the first boldly neo-classical painted interior of its type, perhaps in all Europe (Friedman, op. cit., p. 180). The design is strongly 'Roman' and incorporates Roman scrolling acanthus foliage which adorns the body of the vase and nozzles, perhaps to harmonise with the ceiling panels and decoration which itself is derived from post-classical sources such as a design for a soffit from the Temple of Castor & Pollux published by Desgodetz in Les Edifices de Rome, 1682, p. 131, fig. 63 (J. Friedman, op. cit., p. 172, fig. 154), while its scrolled tripod base evokes the earlier 18th century Palladianism of William Kent and his followers. The key elements feature in Stuart's design for the wall of a painted room with coved recess of circa 1757-8 (now in the RIBA Library Drawings Collection, London). Although the original house is unidentified, it is directly contemporary with Stuart's work at both Wimbledon and Spencer House - and this early dating in Stuart's career is further strengthened by the fact that several of the elements appear in a Robert Adam design for a silver sauceboat at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, 1759-62.
A second pair of candelabra was also placed in the Painted Room, this time of Grecian inspiration and whose pattern was ultimately derived from Stuart & Revett's design for the missing tripod torch from the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates and published in Antiquities of Athens, 1762, p. 36 (N. Goodison, 'Mr Stuart's Tripod', Burlington Magazine, October 1972, pp. 695-704). Plausible arguments have been advanced for attributing the design of the latter set of tripod candelabra perfume-burners to Stuart and their manufacture to Diederich-Nicolaus Anderson (d. 1767), who was the leading purveyor of objects in ormolu and gilt-bronze before Matthew Boulton began ormolu production at Soho, Birmingham in 1768. Although documentary evidence to link the present pair to the same author and maker is scant, there are compelling reasons to suggest that the Stuart Anderson combination is responsible for this pattern of candelabra.
Six pairs of this model of candelabra are known. The present pair: supplied to John, 1st Earl Spencer for the chimneypiece of the Painted Room at Spencer House; a pair supplied to George, later 1st Baron Lyttelton at Hagley Hall, Worcestershire, which were negotiated by Christie's to Soho House, Birmingham; a pair supplied to The Marquess of Rockingham at Wentworth Woodhouse; a pair in the Victoria & Albert Museum (M.279-1975); a pair now at Spencer House that was recently acquired from Carlton Towers, Yorkshire and originally supplied either for Norfolk House, St. James's Square as suggested by Goodison, op. cit., p. 377, under note 53, or for Thomas Stapleton (d. 1821) for Carlton Hall (now Towers), Selby, Yorkshire which was remodelled in the 1770s by the Yorkshire architect Thomas Atkinson (d. 1798) - Atkinson was employed by the 9th Duke of Norfolk in 1766 to lay out part of his Sheffield estate; and a pair in The Royal Collection [RCIN 985] (J. M. Robinson, 'New light from the nursery', Country Life, 28 September 1995, p. 80).
Of the six pairs known, five pairs are linked to collections that were formed in the late 1750s early 1760s, four of which are connected with Stuart. The Spencer pair was designed for the Painted Room at Spencer House; at Hagley, Stuart built a Greek Doric temple in 1759 for the 1st Lord Lyttelton; and Stuart was working at Wentworth Woodhouse for the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham from 1755 onwards. In 1761, Stuart designed a new throne for Queen Charlotte's use at St. James's Palace (V. Percy & G. Jackson-Stops, '"Exquisite taste and tawdry ornament". The Travel Journals of the 1st Duchess of Northumberland - II', Country Life, 7 February 1974, pp. 250-252) and it was noted by Thomas Hollis in his diary entry for 17 September 1761: 'At Mr Anderson's, caster in brass, to see a curious State Chair for the Queen after a design of Mr Stuart's. Met Mr Stuart at Mr Anderson's and was greatly pleased with the chair' (Diary of Thomas Hollis, Ms. Eng 1191, Houghton Library, Harvard University, quoted in S. Weber Soros (ed.), op. cit., p. 452). Furthermore, Stuart's authorship has been suggested by Mr John Harris for Queen Charlotte's sedan chair supplied by Samuel Vaughan with ormolu enrichments made by Diederich Nicolaus Anderson (J. Roberts, (ed.), George III and Queen Charlotte, London, 2004, no. 274, pp. 268-269).