Important Pair of Antique Sheffield Adamesque Candelabra, by Matthew Boulton, Birmingham, c. 1780-1805
This outstanding pair of candelabra is signed by Matthew Boulton, the important Birmingham maker of antique Sheffield plate and silver. Based on the form of a tripod Roman oil lamp, they have a stepped plinth base, three reeded legs with lion paw feet and lion masques for capitals that support a gadrooned demi-spherical center section with a hanging flame pendant. Upon this, three curved reeded branches extend upward to gadrooned socles. The central gadrooned socle retains the original removable flame finial. These very impressive candelabra measure 25 inches high and about 19 inches in diameter. They are in good condition for their age - 2 bobeche are missing, one arm is (well) restored and there is light rosing.
Matthew Boulton (1740-1806) was an entrepreneur and an important maker of decorative arts. As a partner of James Watts, Boulton financially backed the invention of the steam engine in 1770. He then became the first important maker of antique Sheffield plate. Hiring important designers, he made fashionable accessories for the burgeoning middle and upper classes. Boulton hired Robert Adam, the important Scottish architect, and designer of the neoclassical style, as one of his principal designers. While we cannot prove Adam designed this pair, he is the likely designer. Light and elegant, they embody the romantic classicism that was Adam's trademark.
Boulton's zeal as an inventor is evidenced by his befriending of Francois-Pierre-Ami Argand, the inventor of the argand lamp. Boulton, in partnership with Argand, was the first to produce this lamp in the 1780s. A very early example of this based used with an argand lamp c. 1785, is now in the collection of Winterthur museum
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