The partnership of Wedgwood & Bentley created some of the most inventive and celebrated pottery of the late 18th Century - the unrivalled potters of the neoclassical taste. Designs were heavily influenced by and copied from well-known sources, but only the best aspects of the style selected. The form of these candlesticks bears close semblance to a design attributed to Sir William Chambers (1723-1796), architect to George III and major exponent of British neoclassicism along with Robert Adam. Published in his 1791 third edition of the 'Treatise on the Decorative Parts of Civil Architecture', it is thought that the design was most probably adapted from a seated sphinx that he had seen on an antique Roman sarcophogus whilst on Tour between 1750 and 1754. Wedgwood too was inspired by ancient works of art - black basalt was developed in response to Etruscan wares being recovered in Italy and was one of the firm's most expensive creations.
Cf. Robin Reilly, Wedgwood, Volume I (London, 1989), p. 473, pl. 680