A superb pair of early Victorian serpentine and gilt metal candlestick holders.
The candle holders are comprised of a solid circular serpentine base with three fire gilt metal struts in the form of winged lions holding a classical serpentine urn with candle mounts.
Serpentine as a decorative medium was unwittingly championed in the Victorian period by Prince Albert during a visit to the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall where the stone is most commonly found. An interesting article from the 1880’s by EW Crofts relates that in 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert arrived in Mount’s Bay on their steam yacht, The Victoria & Albert. After landing at Penzance, Prince Albert visited the Geological Society’s Museum where he left with two specimens of serpentine in which he took particular interest.
Following this, a number of enterprising minds formed what became “The London and Penzance Serpentine Company” and in 1851 began to introduce serpentine wares to the metropolis. Another notable manufacturer was The Serpentine Marble Works of Penzance who exhibited everything from vases to fonts at The Great Exhibition and are featured in the Art Journal Illustrated Catalogue of the period.
This piece is likely to have emanated from one of these manufacturers and is an unusual and rare example of Victorian serpentine work.