Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Home Beautiful: The Thomas Johnson Candlestand, 1756-60

Thomas Johnson, c. 1760
The Victoria & Albert Museum

From the V&A, we see one of a set of four stands, most decidedly in the fanciful, organic, Rococo style, which were made to hold candelabra. They are perfect examples of Britain’s brand of the Rococo which flourished in the late 1750s and early 1760s.

An exact attribution is impossible, however, this stand is obviously similar to a published design by the carver Thomas Johnson. Nevertheless, the work features popular themes of the time, especially a motif of dolphins.

If this is the work of Thomas Johnson, he might have based his design on an engraving of a candlestand by François Cuvilliés (1695-1768), a Flanders-born designer who famously worked for the Bavarian Court in Munich. The celebrated Thomas Chippendale later used a similar design in the third edition of his book The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director of 1762.

George, 1st Baron Lyttelton (1709-1793) bought these candlestands for Hagley Hall, Worcestershire, his country house which was built between 1754 and 1760. The set of four stood on flanking pier tables in the gallery of the monumental home, along a dramatic passage with windows overlooking the park. The stands were crafted of carved pine and painted to match the frames in the room—in a rich mahogany brown with a contrasting grey-white. The branches are cast of iron, with candlestick fittings of gilt brass.

No comments: