These stately wall lights are designed in the Louis Quatorze Roman fashion popularized by the goldsmiths' patterns issued in the late 17th century by the Paris-trained architect Daniel Marot (d.1752) in his Nouveau Livre d'Orfevrerie. In particular they relate to a suite of tall golden gueridon candlestands, enriched with tasseled lambrequins supplied in the late 1690s for William III's Hampton Court Palace by the Huguenot craftsman Jean Pelletier (T. Murdoch, 'Jean, Rene' and Thomas Pelletier, Part I', Burlington Magazine, November 1997, p. 733, fig. 3).
These wall lights are related to a pair that appears a 1903 photograph of the Chapel Room at Bramshill, Hampshire (reproduced in H. A. Tipping, English Homes, period III, 1927, p. 299, figs. 37-378). Described as 'hanging lights attributed to Daniel Marot', they featured in C. Hussey's article entitled 'Mirrors and Georgian Furniture at Bramshill' published in Country Life, 2 June 1923 (p. 799, fig. 1). The bracket finials of orbs capped by birds can be related to another of Marot's patterns for an eagle-capped barometer. The Bramshill wall lights may have been commissioned by Sir John Cope, 5th Baronet (d.1721) along with another similar pair bearing the crest of the Earl of Radnor (illustrated in P. Macquoid and R. Edwards, The Dictionary of English Furniture, 1924, vol. III, p. 61, fig. 11). The Bramshill wall lights descended in the Cope family and were subsequently gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Judge Irwin Untermyer in 1964 where they are now on view. They are illustrated in Y. Hackenbroch, English Furniture with some furniture of other countries in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, Norwich, 1958, pl. 155, fig. 187 and were exhibited in The Age of Walnut, London, 1932. Another pair of this model, formerly with Hotspur and possibly made en suite with the other Bramshill pair, was sold anonymously, Sotheby's New York, 7 April 2004, lot 185. A further pair of similar character is in the collections at Temple Newsam House, Leeds (illustrated in C. Gilbert, Furniture at Temple Newsam House and Lotherton Hall, Leeds, 1978, vol. II, no. 308).
The unusual peacock finials on these wall-lights leads to a fascinating possibility for their original commission, as the peacock features prominently on the arms of the Dukes of Rutland, whose main country seat was Belvoir Castle. John Manners was created the 1st Duke of Rutland in 1703, around the same time as these elegant wall lights were created. Another possibility could be Thomas Pelham-Holles, who was created 1st Duke of Newcastle in 1715, whose family crest also prominently displayed a peacock, and who on coming of age in 1714 inherited huge estates including Newcastle House in London and Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. The peacocks must also have appealed greatly to Mrs. Wrightsman, since she was known to have a particular affinity for these colorful birds, as is apparent with several pieces in the sale.