This pair of torchères is nearly identical to one in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich, which originally stood in the Residenz in Würzburg (H. Kreisel, Die Kunst des deutschen Möbels, Munich, 1970, vol. II, fig. 520).
The Residenz in Würzburg was the seat of the princely bishop Friedrich Carl von Schönborn from 1735 and the center for stylistic developments in the decorative arts for Franken in general. Luckily most of the objects that were made for the château are recorded in great details in the archives that survive. Three main carvers are recorded for the Residenz in this period and Friedrich Hund may well be the most influential of the group. He was considered the most accomplished and the one that understood the art of decorative carving the best. He was accordingly also the most expensive of the carvers of the court and sparked the leading architect Balthasar Neumann to continuously complain about the expense of employing him, while concurrently never forgetting to mention that he was the best carver.
An inventory of 1778 mentions six torchères of this form in the Parade Audience Room of the palace and two further examples in the Mirror Cabinet. The only other two torchères from this suite known to survive were until now the Munich examples. It is believed that Hund supplied the tochères in 1744, just a year before a desastrous fire ravished the castle and destroyed 56 rooms. Much of the furniture was, however, saved.
The label inscribed 'LvR' possibly refers to Louis von Rothschild (b. 1882) of the Viennese branch of the celebrated banking family, who had inherited part of the fabled collection of his uncle, Baron Nathaniel (d. 1905), and his father Albert (d. 1911) von Rothschild of Vienna. The family fortune was based on businesses established by Mayer Amschel Rothschild in Frankfurt in the 1760s. His five sons, the 'five arrows' extended the family's interests throughout Europe, primarily based upon finance, but the majority of the collections were put together by the third or fourth generations of the family well into the 19th century. This timing coincided with a period when the royal and noble houses of Europe and the landowning families of England experienced financial difficulties and dispersed their collections.
The Viennese branch was truly established by Nathaniel and Albert's grandfather, Salomon, who himself left Vienna after the civil disorder of 1848. Anselm firmly established the Rothschild business interest in Austria and embarked on the first large building programs for the Rothschild's in Vienna. With time the family had residences in the Renngasse, the Theresianumgasse, the Heugasse as well as the Hohe Warte and Schloss Schillersdorf in Moravia.
Nathaniel died childless and passed his collections on to Albert who passed them on to his sons Alphonse (b. 1878), Louis (b. 1882) and Eugene (b. 1884). A considerable part of the collection was subsequently sold Christie's, London, 8 July 1999.