The candlesticks are conceived in the antique style after the French manner as introduced to London around 1800 by the connoisseur Thomas Hope (d.1831), and popularised through the publication of the guide to his Duchess Street mansion entitled Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807. Their 'oil-lamp' nozzles stand on candelabrum-baluster stems with hollow-sided 'altar' pedestals and addorsed sphinx-monopodiae perched on their palmette-enriched plinths. The lamp-bowls, with flames issuing from their triple palm-decorated spouts, are embellished with bas-reliefs of butterflies approaching palm-shaped torches. Their balusters, issuing from a palm-calyx, are wreathed by triumphal palm-bearing nike figures attending flaming altars. The chimerical sphinxes have twisted hair after the bacchic manner, as discussed in Hope's guide (loc. cit., pl. LVII).
An identical pair to this lot is shown on one of the 'griffin' sideboard-tables in a detail sketch (pl. XV, no. 3 and in closer detail in pl. XLIV), but not in the room view of the Aurora breakfast-room, where two 'griffin'-tables stood (pl. VII). It is probable that there was a pair of this model of candlesticks on each of the tables although it is not known how many pairs exist. One pair was sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 6 July 1995, lot 9 (to the London trade), another pair is in a private collection while a single is shown in situ in the Drawing room at Slane Castle, Co. Meath in J. O'Brien and D. Guinness, Great Irish Houses and Castles, London, 1992, p.161. One of the console tables was sold anonymously, Christie's, London, 7 July 1994, lot 131. The room's cornice was decorated with antique lamps, and its black marble chimney-piece was embellished with Nights's emblems. The pedestal for Flaxman's sculpture of Cephalus is credited to Alexis Decaix (d.1811), the French 'bronze and ormolu manufacturer' of Rupert Street, Piccadilly, who was also patronised by George Prince of Wales, later King George IV (M. Chapman, 'Thomas Hope's Vase and Alexis Decaix', Bulletin of the Victoria & Albert Museum, 1988, pp. 217-221). A pair of lacquered-brass tazza, possibly by Alexis Decaix, and following a design by Hope was sold from The C. Ruxton and Audrey B. Love Collection, Christie's, New York, 20 October 2004, lot 524.