Maker: Paul Storr (British, 1771–1844)
Culture: British, London
Dimensions: H. 35 in. (88.9 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Audrey Love, in memory of C. Ruxton Love Jr., 1976
Accession Number: 1976.423.1a–h
This imposing centerpiece meant for the middle of a table has two tiers for candles, the upper with three arms, the lower with three double-arms, creating nine lights overall. The candle light served to emphasize the figure of Poseidon, the Greek sea god known to the Romans as Neptune. He sits in the midst of tall reeds. The ocean-Poseidon theme is continued in the seaweed and coral that wrap the candle arms and by the figures around the base—a triton blowing a conch shell with which he calms the waters, and a nereid, both with bodies dividing into double fish tails. Dolphins, sacred to Poseidon, sport around the lower tier of candle arms and support the mirrored stand. The figures stand as though in shallows with sharp rocks and cascades of water between them. The centerpiece gives its greatest effect when the candles are lit. Then the surface of the stand reflects the candle light, giving an impression of glittering sea foam and reflecting light back up to the central composition.
On the back of Poseidon's rocky throne, a hand-inscribed date, "December 15th 1938," tells us that this was one of the last pieces made by Paul Storr. He was associated with John Mortimer as retailer and business partner since 1822. They had retail premises in New Bond Street, in the fashionable Mayfair district behind Piccadilly, and manufacturing workshops in Grey's Inn, near the commercial and business district of London. They were jewelers, goldsmiths, and silversmiths to Queen Victoria.
The intrusion of a lotus plant with leaves and flowers that wraps the central shaft and the seaweeds and corals of the candle arms indicate the growing interest in naturalism, which became a major design resource throughout the middle third of the nineteenth century.
Victoria's accession to the throne in 1837 inaugurated a change in the national consciousness toward greater propriety, which impacted many aspects of public life as well as domestic interiors and furnishings. A strong pictorialism was adopted early in her reign and had a long vogue. She had been queen for a year and a half when this candelabrum was made.