Together weighing 691oz, they were part of a magnificent silver-gilt service for 30 settings commissioned in 1835 by the notoriously extravagant Robert Henry Herbert, 12th Earl of Pembroke and 9th Earl of Montgomery (1791-1862) – two years before he abandoned his parliamentary duties for a mansion on the Place Vendôme in Paris.
Paul Storr, working with John Mortimer, spent over a decade fulfilling the order, working in an atypical rococo revival style. The riotous design – shared by a larger nine-light candelabrum, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – includes references to the Herbert family heraldic wyvern, modelled chasing cherubs and rocaille leaves.
The service was dispersed in the 19th century, when Christie’s cleared Pembroke’s London residence at 7 Carlton House Terrace in 1851 (the source of this pair) and at a posthumous sale in Paris in 1862. Pieces from the service occasionally turn up for sale – Bonhams sold a caster in March this year for £1100 – but Elllis Finch, Bonhams’ head of silver, deemed the candelabra “the finest pieces from the service ever to have appeared at auction”.
The estimate was £120,000-180,000.