Pair of English antique walnut torchères/ candlestands, circa 1730.
The ’barbed quatrefoil’ figured tops with boldly moulded edges are supported on carved and faceted, gently spreading columns with carved collars. The whole raised on well drawn tripod supports.
Of excellent colour and well patinated surfaces.
Torchères were used as stands for candles and were usually placed in pairs on either side of a table to illuminate a 17th or 18th century drawing room.
For a very good example see Thomas Chippendale’s original drawing, circa 1760, of a torchère in the George Lock collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum. See also “English Furniture Designs of the 18th Century” by Peter Ward-Jackson, 1958, pp.46 & 119.
The unusual barbed quatrefoil shape of these tops is a standard quatrefoil pierced at the angles by the points of an inscribed square, which generates an image akin to an heraldic rose, which is termed ‘barbed’ due to the stylised thorns which project at the intersection of each pair of petals. The earliest example of the barbed quatrefoil appears on the south transept buttresses in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris in 1260.
A quatrefoil is a representation of a four-leaf clover, universally recognised as a portent of good luck.
It is unusual to find a pair in walnut which helps date them to the first half of the 18th century. These torchères or candlestands are more frequently encountered in mahogany and as such would be of a slightly later date.
Pairs of torchères frequently became separated – singles, as a result, are worth considerably less.
Nnb. A PAIR OF MAHOGANY AND PARCEL-GILT TORCHERES OF GEORGE II STYLE (early 20th century) sold Christies for £27,500 – The Collector: English Furniture, Clocks & Works of Art, London, 13 Nov 2018.