A Magnificent Pair of George III Blue John and Rock Crystal Candelabra, Possibly by Matthew Boulton
Inventory Number 8306-107
Each "Blue John" vase mounted with ormolu lion's mask handles and laurel leaf wrapped-base supporting a lyre-form four-arm candelabra profusely hung with rock crystal pendants; on a black marble plinth base.
Blue John is a blue/purple and white/yellow banded variety of fluorite which occurs widely throughout Derbyshire and especially in the Ashover and Crich areas. It also occurs where other fluorspar deposits have been mined and so may be found in County Durham (especially Weardale), Cornwall and Wales as well as throughout the world.
The name is popularly said to come from the French; bleu-jaune, meaning 'blue-yellow'. It is a fact that some Blue John was indeed sent to France for gilding by the French Ormolu workers of the Louis XVI period. However, they were emulating the pionerring ormolu ornaments of Matthew Boulton of Birmingham who around 1765 called the stone 'Blew John'. It became such a popular base for the ornaments that Boulton tried to lease the whole output of the Castleton mines.
The earliest dated decorative application of Blue John is its use in marble fireplace panels designed by Robert Adam and installed in Kedleston Hall near Derby in 1762.