The cypher is that of Augustus II (1696-1763), Elector of Saxony, who also reigned as Augustus III, King of Poland, succeeding his father Augustus the Strong in 1733.
Following his father's example, Augustus continued to lavish large amounts of money on artistic commissions for the Saxon royal collection. His father had advised him in 1719, the year of his marriage, that "Princes win immortality through great building as well as great victories." Of Augustus it was said that "he showed neither talent or inclination for government but took great interest in music and painting." During his reign, under the direction of prime minister Heinrich Count Brel, much of the existing silver in the Dresden Hofsilberkammer was melted down to be refashioned by Dresden silversmiths. Christian Heinrich Ingermann won many of these commissions, and Rosenberg records several pieces by this maker including a set of 36 "weiss silberne Rokokoleuchter" remaining in Dresden in 1923 (v.II, nos. 1798 a-m). The silver made for the court in the 1740s demonstrates the Saxon fascination with the French rococo style, and it is thought that the work of Parisian silversmith Claude Ballin was particularly influential to the design of the present candlesticks (see Wolfram Koeppe, "Blickfang schsischer Bankette Tafelleuchter und Girandolen," Kunst und Antiquitaten, March 1993, pp. 48-50).
The present pair of candlesticks is almost certainly part of a large set of French-influenced rococo candlesticks and candelabra commissioned from Ingermann in 1745, and described as "neu faonnirte franzsische Tafel- und Girandolen-Leuchter" in the royal inventories (F.A. von O'Byrn, Die Hof-Silberkammer und die Hof-Kellerei zu Dresden, Dresden, 1880, p. 130). The engraved inventory numbers on extant candlesticks from this service indicate that there were at least 56 examples originally. In addition to the present pair, there is one set of six and three pairs known of identical pattern (the set of six, inventory numbers 39-44, sold at Christie's, New York, October 18, 1994, lot 45; a pair, inventory numbers 46 and 48, sold at Christie's, New York, April 17, 1996, lot 41; a pair, inventory numbers 37 and 38, sold at Christie's, Geneva, May 17, 1994, lot 126; a pair, inventory numbers 55 and 56, sold at Sotheby's, New York, April 12, 1994, lot 159). Ingermann made two variations of the present model for Augustus, also engraved with the
cypher AR3 and with similar inventory numbers (see a pair of candelabra sold at Christie's, New York, October 30, 1991, lot 64, and a set of six silver-gilt candlesticks sold at Sotheby's, Geneva, May 18, 1992, lot 83).