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Much of Cornwalls' Lizard Peninsular is formed of a beautiful variety of serpentine rocks, dappled red and black, veined greens and some almost white. From early in the 19th century local craftsmen became expert in lathe turning this material into useful and decorative items. These candlesticks can be attributed to John Murphy who ran a Serpentine Repository in the Market Place, Penzance, during the middle of the 19th century. Following a visit to Penzance by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1846, when they bought some of these works of art for Osbourne House, and a stand at the Great Exhibition of 1851, this serpentine became popular with the country's aristocracy as well as architects and builders of the time. However, the shortcomings of serpentine as an exterior building material, and competition from Italy, lead to the closure of Cornwall's works by the end of the 19th century. John Murphy was born in Dublin in 1819 and at the suggestion of Dowager Marchioness of Ormonde, came to England and was apprenticed to John Vallance of Derbyshire, being another centre for stone and marble work in England. He moved down to Cornwall as manager of the Penzance Serpentine Co. in the 1850's and had his own business in Penzance from around 1860.
Dia. 5 3/4" h. 13"