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Candlestick, London, England, c. 1763/4
Makers: Emick Romer (Norwegian-English, 1724–1799)
Medium: Silver
S29 Gift of Mrs. William Whitridge in 1950

A set of elegant London-made candlesticks adorns the original dining table in the dining room of the Hammond-Harwood House.

London was teeming with premier silversmiths in the late 18th century. Emick Romer was from Halden, Norway, and immigrated to London in the 1750s, part of the large influx of European silversmiths in the Georgian period.

The candlesticks have reeded columns, Corinthian tops, and square bases. The reeds are derived from the ancient Roman fasces or bundle of reeds. In ancient times, fasces were a Roman symbol of power and authority, a bundle of wooden rods and an axe bound together by leather. In America fasces were very popular for designs on furniture and can even be seen on important statues like the Lincoln Memorial. The original American motto “E Pluribus Unum,” or “Out of Many, One,” comes from fasces –suggesting the union of the states bound by the Constitution.

Corinthian columns were said by the Roman writer Vitruvius (c. 75BC-c.15BC) to originate with Greek sculptor Callimachus. He was inspired by the grave of young girl on which the parents had placed a basket filled with toys. A top over the basket protected it from the elements and an acanthus plant had woven around it over time. Very classical in style, these candlesticks would have appealed to American consumers.

Ancient Rome permeated the thoughts of our founding fathers. The influence extended from the way they spoke and thought, to the references they used, the clothes they wore, the decorative arts that adorned their rooms, and even the way they designed their homes. To these individuals, ancient Rome was the embodiment of an ideal society and they felt a certain kinship to this culture through their similarities.

The rise in classical taste can be attributed to a few factors. Ancient Rome, like early America, was a largely agricultural society. Roman statesman Cato’s book De Argicul Tura encouraged owning plantations and described the benefits of owning livestock and cultivating crops. He devalued city life and praised farming as good citizenship and pride. Both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were avid readers of Cato.

Around this time Pompeii was being excavated and an abundance of new material was discovered. Lord Lansdowne, the prime minister of England during the American Revolution who gave favorable terms to colonists, was a big proponent of classical taste and corresponded with men like Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams. American elite started taking the grand tour of Europe, traveling to Rome and viewing the ancient ruins. Books on ancient architecture, pottery, and culture were printed in Europe and sent to America. Today Romer’s silver can be found in many American institutions such as Colonial Williamsburg, The Clark Institute, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


By Rachel Lovett, Curator

Hammond-Harwood House

The mission of the Hammond-Harwood House Association is to preserve and to interpret the architecturally significant Hammond-Harwood House Museum and its collection of fine and decorative arts, and to explore the diverse social history associated with its occupants, both free and enslaved, for the purposes of education and appreciation.
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