The design of the present candle-vase shows a much stronger French influence in its adherence to the principals of the prevailing Parisian goût grec than is generally found amongst Boulton's oeuvre. This is due in no small part to the fact that three of the key details are copied directly from the work of the Parisian bronzier Pierre Gouthière (1732-1813) who was a major exponent of the style. The block-mounted lion's-masks, the cluster of lion's-paws radiating from the socle and the ribbon-bound laurel-border to the base all appear to be copied directly from the Parisian's work; furthermore on variants of this design where an additional plinth is present even the flower filled entrelac border appears to be taken from him. Gouthière, who produced work for Marie Antoinette and the French Court, produced and signed several candlesticks displaying these features which survive today. It is likely that Boulton encountered Gouthière's work, and possibly even acquired a candlestick of this type, during his 1765 visit to Paris.
Amongst the earliest surviving examples of silver produced at the Soho manufactory are a group of six candlesticks (dated 1768-9) of near identical design to Gouthière's; Boulton later also produced the design in ormolu. Two ormolu candelabras of this type, originally supplied as part of a larger group to Lord Sefton, survive in the collections of the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Interestingly, if coincidentally, whilst it would appear that Boulton was the first, he apparently was not the only, British smith to copy the designs of Gouthière as a group of four silver candelabra, with bases of this design, by the King's goldsmith Thomas Heming (dated 1774/75), remain in the collections at Harewood House.
The design of the arms to the these candle-vases is hitherto unrecorded amongst Boulton's ormolu. However the finesse of design, technical proficiency and method of construction demonstrate that these 18th century branches could only be produced by the most sophisticated of metalworkers. All these facets are typical of Boulton's work; in particular Boulton's acanthus-wrapped candle-arms employ the same method of construction where the leaves and the branch are initially created separately and then worked together to create a sharpness of detail unachievable when cast as one. Two closely related designs for slightly more elaborate ormolu candle-arms exist in Boulton's ormolu pattern books, however, whilst this exact pattern of candle-arm has not been identified, the research has not been exhaustive and the answer may lie amongst Boulton's innumerable designs and sketches for silver and plate in the Birmingham City Archives. As evidenced above the designs for silver and ormolu were often seen as entirely interchangeable. (illustrated N. Goodison, Matthew Boulton: Ormolu, pl. 312.1-2, p. 319.) Goodison also discusses this model of vase, Ibid., pp. 287-290, for an article discussing the rise to prominence of the 'lion-faced candlestick in Britain, see Kenneth Quickenden, 'Lyon-Faced Candlesticks and Candelabra', The Silver Society Journal, Autumn 1999, pp. 196-210.
Goodison suggests that this vase is probably the model which is often referred to in Boulton's papers as 'Bingley's vase' and that there were almost certainly vases of this type in Boulton's first speculative sale at Christie's in 1771. A pair of vases believed to be of this design were delivered to Sir Gregory Turner in also 1771, perhaps after he had seen them exhibited at Christie's. Examples of this design are known to survive in the Royal Collection as well as in the collection at Shugborough, Staffordshire and in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum, New York. A pair of vases of this design but with additional bluejohn paneled plinths and lacking candle-arms was sold from the collection of H.R.H. The Prince George, Duke of Kent, Christie, Manson & Wood, London, 12-14 March 1947 lot 311; a further pair were exhibited by H. Blairman & Sons Ltd. at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair in 1961.