These stands for vases or candelabra are conceived as tripod altars dedicated to Venus. The golden tripods recall the bronze sacrificial altars such as were discovered at Herculaneum, and their hollow-sided altar pedestals are dominated by lioness masks emblematic of the Feast of Bacchus. Their general form evolved from stands invented in the 1770s by the architect Robert Adam (d.1792), such as two designs of 1773, or a sketch of a tripod for the Lord Coventry (Eileen Harris, The Genius of Robert Adam, His Interiors, 2001, p. 48). However, his bases are made taller in his pedestals for 20, St James's Square of 1777 (Victoria & Albert Museum), or his tripod pedestal for Apsley House 1779 (Sir John Soane Museum). This general form of altar plinth, although more richly carved, was still fashionable as late as 1802, as they can be seen on the stands reputed to have come from Fonthill Abbey and restored by Thomas Chippendale Junior in 1802 for Stourhead, Wiltshire (A. Mitchell, Stourhead Guide Book, 28). The less charged and more open character of these pedestals, allied with the manner of the carved leafage, beginning to lose its type of the third quarter of the century, together with the placing of the lioness' heads in the base, point to a date near the end of the century. The leafage is paralleled in that of the plaster ceiling of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, 1789-91, rebuilt by Nathaniel Wright (District Surveyor for the North District of London), where again the leafage is beginning to transmogrify into a Regency leaf.
A pair of torchères probably executed in the same workshop was exhibited in the Art Treasures Exhibition, 1932 by Marryat & Co.. Executed in stripped pine and therefore originally undoubtedly also decorated, these displayed the same central shaft of spirally-fluted collar and fluted tapering shaft with upturned acanthus boss. In contrast, however, their tripartitie scrolled monopodiae displayed Bacchic ram's masks.
Although unusual, the contrasting differentiation of monopode head and feet, here related to the lioness masks below, can be seen in a lot in "The sale of that highly ingenuous artist, Mr. George Bullock Decd.", Christie's, 3rd May 1819, lot 47, "A pier table with gilt cranes necks on lion's paw feet".