Carved softwood, ebonised, painted and gilded
127.4 x 36.8 x 32 cmOrder this image
Ham House, Surrey (Accredited Museum)
On show at
A torchère-stand in the form of a "Blackamoor", probably Venetian, circa 1675, of carved softwood painted black and red, partly gilded. The male "Indian" figure holds a tambourine above his head covered by a waistband. He wears a skirt made of feathers, anklets with bells and a quiver of arrows over their back. The figure is raised on a circular pedestal with Baroque scrolls, on paw feet. The pair is first listed in the Ham House's inventory of 1677 in the Great Dining Room (now the Round Gallery). Both stands were re-gilded and redecorated by the cabinet-maker George Nix circa 1729-30 as per his bill to the 4th Earl of Dysart: "For new Gilding & Japanning 2 fine Indian Figures...£ 4". This type of anthropomorphic stands were highly fashionable in Northern Europe when this pair was acquired by the Duke and the Duchess of Lauderdale. A comparable pair of candlestands with "Nubian" figures can be seen in Knole (NT 129512.1-2). They are generally thought to be Venetian but it has been suggested that they could be of English manufacture. The Medici archives in Florence contain references to "Blackamoor torchères" from this period. Both the present pair and the one at Knole must have the same origin as the figures, the tambourines and the small pedestals are very closely related. A candlestand from this pair was on show at the exhibition: "Baroque, Style in the Age of Magnificence" at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 2009.
Listed in the Great Dining Room (now the Round Gallery) in the 1677 inventory: "Two Indean stands"; in 1683 : "Two blackamore stands". Acquired in 1948 by HM Government when Sir Lyonel, 4th Bt (1854 – 1952) and Sir Cecil Tollemache, 5th Bt (1886 – 1969) presented Ham House to the National Trust, and entrusted to the care of the Victoria & Albert Museum, until 1990, when returned to the care of the National Trust, and to which ownership was transferred in 2002.
Rowell 2013 Christopher Rowell (ed.), Ham House 400 Years of Collecting and Patronage, Yale, 2013, p.283 Baroque 1620-1800: Style in the Age of Magnificence, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 4 April to 19 June 2009., p.306; cat.156