The ormolu-enriched candelabrum is designed in the late 18th Century 'Egyptian' manner, with a bronze figure of a cobra-wrapped Isis priestess standing on an 'altar' pedestal of porphyry-coloured marble. Hieroglyphics and aigrette-plumed crescents embellish the lion-masked vase and the ram-headed yoke that are borne by the priestess, while her winged uraeus cobras bear the 'vase' candle-nozzles. An Isis priestess head is also displayed in the pedestal's bas-relief, together with uraeus cobras and Ibis birds.
Similar 'Egyptian' candelabra were executed in Rome in the late 18th Century by bronze founders such as Guisseppe Boschi (H. Honour, 'After the Antique. Some Italian bronzes of the 18th Century', Apollo, no. 77, 1963, pp. 199-200). However, the present model is likely to have been invented by the celebrated Parisian marchand mercier Martin-Eloy Lignereux (d. 1809) of the rue Taitbout. In 1803 he supplied a pair of these candelabra to Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin and 11th Earl of Kincardine (d. 1841), who was returning to England with the Parthenon marbles that he had acquired during his service as George III's Ambassador Exraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Sublime Port of Selim III, Sultan of Turkey. Lord Elgin was held for a time in Paris by Napoleon, and the candelebra were eventually taken to his home in Scotland at Broomhall, Fife (they were sold by Lord Bruce, in these Rooms, 31 May 1962, lot 79). One pair of this model, but lacking cobras, was sold from the collection of the late Lord Geoffrey Lloyd, Sotheby's London, 5 July 1985, lot 205 and another pair was sold anonymously, Sotheby's New York, 8/9 November 1988, lot 266.