This tripod torchere, likely to have been commissioned by John Russell, 6th Duke of Bedford (d.1839), is conceived as a Roman bronze candelabrum in the antique manner promoted by the Rome-trained architect C.H. Tatham's, Etchings of Ancient Ornamental Architecture, 1799. Theatric masks hang round its hollowed altar-drum pedestal, which is supported on bacchic lion-paws; while its reeded and tazza-capped pillar is wreathed by Roman foliage and derives in part from a marble antiquity from Hadrian's villa illustrated by the Italian architect G.B.Piranesi in Vasi, Candelabri e Cippi, Rome, 1778. The bacchic masks replace the ram heads featured on the marble original candelabrum, and on the closely related 'Kinnaird' bronze candelabra, which were designed in 1806 under the direction of Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy (d.1854), the celebrated London clock-manufacturer who served as 'bronzier' and 'furniture man' for the Carlton House palace of George, Prince of Wales, later George IV (R. Smith, Benjamin Vulliamy's library, Burlington Magazine, June 1999, pp.328-337, and figs. 11 and 10).
The candelabra supplied to Charles Kinnaird, 8th Lord Kinnaird (d.1826) are inscribed: 'Designed and executed by Vulliamy & Son'. The latter, claimed as being 'by far the largest ever executed in bronze' in England, were invoiced as 'copied from an Antique Altar', since the bas-reliefs on their plinths derived from 'An antique triangular altar of white marble' in Tatham's, Etchings..., 1799.
Thomas Brownley was employed by Vulliamy to make a 'pattern of the pillar to determine the height'. They were included in Vulliamy's 'Ornament Book, no. 1' for 7 October 1806, where it was noted that the carving of the model was to be carried out by Hess; the casting by the brass-founder Barnet; the filing and 'riffling' by Couling, and the chasing by Caney, Harrison and Lacey. The firm of George Penton & Co. assembled the various parts and fitted them with 'patent fountain lamps with three burners'. A founder named Johnson or Johnston then bronzed the metalwork, and the two initial pairs were completed by April 1808, when they were described in the Vulliamy Day Book as: 'very Large Bronze Candelabras...designed from - the Antique each Candelabra is composed of a rich circular Basse ornaments with Rams heads & carried by three Claw feet supporting a very rich hycanthus flower with a triple set of Leaves & the Main Stem of the Candelabra issuing out of the center of the flower the Stem is reeded & finished by the Cap of the flower with 3 leaves springing from under it.' (R.Smith, 'Vulliamy and the Kinnaird candelabra', Apollo, January, 1997, pp.30-34.) A single candelabrum, 'similar to Lord Kinnaird's' was later supplied to Lord Brownlow of Belton and invoiced in 1811. A related Kinnaird candelabrum, on a pedestal embellished with bacchic masks derived from Thomas Hope's Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807, was sold Christie's London, 13 November 1997, lot 61.