Set of four figural candlesticks by Thomas Heming

These four exceptional candlesticks were created by Thomas Heming, a freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths who was appointed principal goldsmith to George III in 1670.

Details

Medium:
Silver
Dimensions:
Height 28.6 cm, weight 2.6kg
Art Fund grant:
£7,000 ( Total: £28,000)
Acquired in:
2014
Vendor:
Koopman Rare Art

The design and craftsmanship of the candlesticks is exceptional, blending the continuous movement and fluid modelling of English rococo with a naturalistic style to achieve a unique aesthetic. The stems of the candlesticks are formed from female figures in drapery that falls and folds realistically over their forms, demonstrating Heming’s exceptional skill. Nearly three centuries after their creation, the silver remains crisp to the touch, a sign that the works are not only of exceptionally high quality, but also well cared for. They were commissioned by William Wasey, an eminent fellow of the Royal College of Physicians who was elected president in 1750. An entry in the college’s cashbook for 1750 reads: ‘September 19. President 25 Pounds being the annual donation of the late D Baldwin Hamey for a piece of Plate £25.0.0. The Treasurer of the RCP later reported that “the President had bought two pairs of chaised Candlesticks therewith”.’ The ‘annual donation’ refers to a stipulation in the will of Dr Baldwin Hamey the Younger, one of the RCP’s most generous benefactors, that ‘every President shall be presented with a piece of silver plate of above three score ounces’. Despite Baldwin Hamey’s insistence, Wasey’s candlesticks are the only example of the provision being enacted. Baldwin Hamey’s importance to the RCP, together with William Wasey’s underrepresentation in their collection, makes these candlesticks a significant addition to the college.

Provenance

English collection since 1956; Koopman Rare Art. An Art Loss Register search has been carried out.

Venue details

Royal College of Physicians Museum The Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, Regents Park, LONDON London NW1 4LE 0203 075 1510 www.rcplondon.ac.uk/museum-garden

Entry details

Free to all

Mon – Fri, 9am – 5pm

Closed weekends, bank holidays and for ceremonies. Please visit the Royal College of Physicians Museum website for further details.

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