Pair of sconces

Pair of sconces

Pair of sconces
Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751)
London, England
About 1717
Gilded silver
Museum nos. Loan:Gilbert.715:1 to 7; 716:1 to 7-2008
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Sconces, or wall lights, were a popular form of lighting during the 17th century. Originally they were in the form of single branches attached to brass plates, later made of silver with a polished back plate to reflect the light. By the early 18th century sconces were falling out of fashion in candlesticks and candelabra were favoured instead, possibly due to the growing fashion for draperies, which would have proved a fire hazard with wall-mounted candles.

Sconces such as these, with a narrow, cast backplate, were a Huguenot innovation designed to flank a mirror above a mantelpiece. The sophisticated form of this pair was inspired by the designs of Daniel Marot (1661-1752) and is characteristic of Paul de Lamerie's early independent work. The engraved coat of arms and baron's coronet of the Foley family were added later, either for Thomas Foley (died 1733), his son Thomas (died 1766) or a cousin, Thomas (1716-77).