Temple Newsam House lights up as dramatic candlestands return

  • 30 August 2007

The Art Fund has helped Temple Newsam House in Leeds to purchase four extraordinary early Rococo candlestands or 'torcheres' that were made especially for the house as a set of eight more than 250 years ago.

The four torcheres have finally been reunited with the rest of the set at Temple Newsam thanks to a £55,000 grant from The Art Fund. The total cost of the torcheres was £170,000.

The torcheres left Temple Newsam in 1922 when the house and estate were sold in a seven day sale. Since 1939 Temple Newsam House has been working to retrieve all the furniture sold off from the Picture Gallery at the House, and in 1976 four of the eight torcheres were repatriated. Now, thanks to The Art Fund, the complete set of eight torcheres can be seen together for the first time in almost 100 years.

No other known English torcheres of the 1740s are as sculptural or as vigorously carved as those designed for the Picture Gallery at Temple Newsam house. They were made by James and Ann Pascall – carvers, gilders and picture frame makers who were based in London.

The eight gilded pine and walnut torcheres were part of an elaborate re-design of the Picture Gallery at Temple Newsam. A spectacular suite of furniture including the torcheres, as well as carpets and wallpaper, were designed around the theme of Ovid’s Metamorphoses – a poem in fifteen books that describes the creation and history of the world, drawing on Greek and Roman mythological traditions.

The torcheres refer to the story of a nymph called Syrinx who was transformed into a bunch of reeds to avoid the lecherous advances of Pan, who was pursuing her through the woods. When the room was originally designed, Pan’s leering face could be seen on the pair of side-tables that sat between the torcheres.

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