The Cyrillic stencilled inventory numbers on the base of one of the candelabra indicate that they come from Gatchina Palace, near St. Petersburg. Like identical marks found on a pair of Louis XVI Svres porcelain vases sold anonymously in these Rooms, 13 October 1996, lot 437, they were most probably applied in the 1862 inventory of the Palace contents.
Unfortunately, the records of this inventory are now incomplete and it has not been possible, to date, to verify when the candelabrum were placed in the palace.
The blue painted marks were applied by the Soviet Government in the inventory (subsequently destroyed in World War II) carried out in 1926 of all Imperial property. The Imperial palaces had been sealed since the Revolution in 1917 and the Soviet Government sold a large number of items (nearly 150,000 out of 200,000 objects listed in the Zuber inventory) between 1929 and 1932 in a series of sales ordered by the Minister of Trade for the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics at Rudolph Lepke in Berlin.
A very similar pair of candelabra is illustrated in a watercolor by the painter Edward Petrovich Hall (1807-1887), showing the Greek Gallery at Gatchina in 1880, decorated in the Antique manner by Vincenzo Brenna after 1790.
The Gatchina Palace, located 30 miles outside St. Petersburg, was purchased by Catherine II and presented to her lover Prince Gregory Orlov along with a park encompassing 1700 acres in 1766. Built originally to the classical design of Antonio Rinaldi (1709-1796), it was later altered and redecorated by Vincenzo Brenna, when Paul I inherited the palace in 1783. At his death in 1801 his son Alexander I came to occupy the palace and it continued to serve as the favored residence of the Russian Czars throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries.
VINCENZO BRENNA (1745-1820)
Vincenzo Brenna was one of the most important architects to have worked in Russia at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th Centuries. He began his career there as an assistant to Charles Cameron at Pavlovsk, which he later took over and completed. He became Court architect to Paul I, for whom he largely rebuilt and redecorated Gatchina Palace and then built St. Michael Castle to Bazhenov's design.