The figures of this pair of candelabra are inspired by a group by Etienne-Maurice Falconet (d. 1791) that were exhibited in the Salon of 1761. His pair of figures were intended for execution by François-Thomas Germain in silver. The design was considered so successful that it prompted the famous philosopher Denis Diderot to comment on the figures to be 'd'un caractère simple, noble et antique. En vérité je n'ai rien vu de Falconet qui fût mieux'. The figure groups were also illustrated in Gabriel Saint-Aubin's Explication des Peintures, sculptures et gravures des Messieurs de l'Academie royale...: dans le grand Salon du Louvre pour l'année 1761.
Falconet was one of the foremost sculptors of the mid-18th century and is perhaps best know for his small gallant or allegorical figures in marble and his widely copied work for Sèvres. He became a professor at the Académie Française in 1761 and is considered an autodidact of strongly independent thinking.
A set of four such candelabra, conceived with an identical goût grec base, however lacking the upper section of the plinth, are in the Royal Castle, Warsaw. They are believed to have formed part of a commission by Stanislaw-August Poniatowski, the last King of Poland (H. Ottomeyer, P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986, vol. I, p. 254, fig. 4.7.3). A pair remains at Pavlovsk, St. Petersburg and is believed to have been purchased from the marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre in circa 1780. A further pair with white marble base and identical step to the base was sold from the Russian Imperial collection at Rudolph Lepke Berlin, 6 - 7 November 1928, lots 191 and 192, while a 19th century pair is at Waddesdon Manor (G.de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, Furniture Clocks and Gilt Bronzes, London, 1974, vol. II, p. 695, cat. 168). A further pair, nearly identical to the current lot, also with Rothschild provenance was sold in The Collection of Erich Von Goldschmidt-Rothschild, Ball and Graupe, 1931, lot 356. Another pair of candelabra from the property of Sara Jane Pansa that is virtually identical was sold Sotheby's New York, 8 November 1985, lot 9. Finally, there is a pair that remains at Versailles (Vmb 1005).