These candlesticks appear to be part of the set of no fewer than 72 supplied by Behrens to King George II's court at the Palace of Herrenhausen in Hanover around 1735. A set of four similar, numbered 26, 30, 33 and 60 were sold at Sotheby's Geneva, 18 May 1992 lot 125 and a further four, numbered 2, 9, 27 and 45 (nozzles 10, 14, 23 and 72) were sold by the same house, 13 May, 1996 lot 166. Further sets of four (possibly including the present lot), but without inventory numbers being recorded, have appeared on the auction market (Sotheby's Monaco, 30 November 1977 and Sotheby's New York, 28/29 October 1977, lots 467 and 468). A set of eight was sold by Sotheby's New York, 21 June 1984, lot 31.
Balthazar Friedrich Behrens (1701-1760) married in 1728 the widow of the Hanover court goldsmith, Conrad Mundt. His most famous productions were the five magnificent chandeliers after designs by the English architect, William Kent that he supplied to the court at Herrenhausen, in 1736 and 1737. One of these, belonging to M. Hubert de Givenchy, was sold at Christie's Monaco, 4 December 1993, lot 95.
In addition to the chandeliers, in 1737 he was commissioned to make a pair of girandoles 'according to the design sent here from the King of England' and six such pairs, probably also based on a Kent design, were delivered between 1738 and 1744. In addition to this silver furniture and the set of 72 candlesticks, "Behrens supplied large services of silver in the new 'English style' " (Ellenor Alcorn, 'The Hanover Chandelier', Christie's International Magazine, October/November, 1993, p. 26). He was officially created Court goldsmith in 1739.
Much of the Hanover Royal plate, including no doubt the present candlesticks, remained at Herrenhausen until shortly after the Seven Weeks war in 1866. During the war the Palace was sacked by Prussian troops but the Royal Plate survived being locked away in a vault hidden by lime and debris. George Frederick, King of Hanover was deposed during that war and the family was deprived of the title of Kings and were, henceforth, styled Dukes of Brunswick. They settled in Austria and their silver was moved to Penzing near Vienna and the Duke's villa at Gmunden. Following the death of George Frederick's son, Ernest Augustus in 1923 a considerable part of the Hanover silver, both German and English, was purchased by the Viennese dealer Gluckselig and it appears to have been, at least in part, resold to London dealers Chichton brothers.
AN IMPORTANT SET OF FOUR GERMAN SILVER ROYAL TABLE-CANDLESTICKS
THE PROPERTY OF THE LATE LORD AND LADY ILIFFE OF BASILDON PARK
early 18th Century, candlesticks, All other categories of objects, silver, Germany
EUROPEAN FURNITURE & WORKS OF ART
9 1/8 in. (23 cm.) high 122 oz. (3,802 gr.)
Apparently part of a set of 72 candlesticks delivered circa 1735 to Herrenhausen, the Hanover palace of King George II of England and Elector of Hanover (r.1727-1760).
By descent in the Royal family of Great Britain and Hanover until the death of King William IV in 1837, at which time the two kingdoms became separate under different monarchs.
Ernest Augustus, 1st Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover (r.1837-1851), fifth son of King George III of Great Britain and brother of King William IV.
By descent to his grandson the Duke of Brunswick (1845-1923)
Sold privately to the Vienna dealers Gluckselig in 1924.