George Wickes was appointed Royal Goldsmith to Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1735. According to Elaine Barr, Wickes may have owed this royal warrant to Francis, Lord North (1704-1790), a long-time Wickes patron and Lord of the Bedchamber for the Prince. North is significant as he commissioned a pair of two-light candelabra identical to the present lot.
Dating to 1731, North's candelabra are discussed and illustrated in Elaine Barr, George Wickes: Royal Goldsmith, 1698-1761, 1980, (fig. 90 and opp. p. 1.). They are engraved with the crest and motto of the Prince of Wales and likely were ordered to commemorate Lord North's appointment as Lord of the Bedchamber in 1730. Of exceptional quality, North's candlesticks and the present examples are also distinguished by their unusual construction. Barr notes "the whole of the upper part of the candlestick above the masks unscrews and is replaced by the branches which are so designed that they appear to be integral with the base." Like the present lot, North's candelabra also have unmarked branches.
This exceptional set of four candelabra presumably descended within the Fitzwilliam family until they were sold at auction by Lady Juliet de Chair, the only child of the 8th Earl Fitzwilliam. Indeed, William, 3rd Earl Fitzwilliam (1719-1756) commissioned other pieces of silver from Wickes, including a pair of oval soup tureens and a pair of candlesticks of 1737. Like Lord North, he was connected within Court circles, serving as one of the pall bearers at the funeral of Frederick, Prince of Wales in 1751.