Superior pair of Empire candlesticks “Retour d’Egypte”, attributed to Claude Galle (1759-1815). The ball-shaped candle holder rests on three Egyptian female heads each wearing a traditional Egyptian headdress. The tapering fluted stem is supported by three pairs of human feet upon a circular base. This base has refined decorations of water leafs and contrasting mat and shiny gilding.
This magnificent pair of French Empire candlesticks with Egyptian figures is attributed to Claude Galle, who supplied variants of this model to Château de Fontainebleau in 1804. This wonderful pair was probably made after a design by the leading Empire designer Charles Percier (1764-1838) as we can see in a drawing which is preserved in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. This drawing is contained in a small album that served as a catalog for a Paris bronzier.
Several similar candlesticks, featuring Egyptian female busts, were made during the Empire period. In that time candlesticks of this style were truly fashionable among Parisian society, when similar designs appeared in catalogues which were used by the Parisian bronziers like Claude Galle.
This pair of French Empire candlesticks has been executed in an excellent quality with original mat and shiny mercury gilding. They are overall in a very good condition.
France, Empire period circa 1805.
Dimensions: height 30 cm, diameter of the base: 14 cm.
Claude Galle (1759-1815)
Claude Galle is regarded as one of the best bronziers of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods. He was born at Villepreux near Versailles. Galle was the apprentice of Pierre Foyin in Paris whose daughter he married in 1784. He became master bronze caster in 1786. After the death of his father-in-law in 1788 Galle took over his workshop. He soon turned it into one of the best bronze workshops in Paris and finally he employed around four hundred craftsmen. He moved to Quai de la Monnaie (later Quai de l’Unité), and then in 1805 to 9 Rue Vivienne.
Galle obtained many commissions of the Royal family (Garde-Meuble de la Couronne) from 1786-1788. He worked with with masters like Pierre-Philippe Thomire, and furnished the majority of the furnishing bronzes for the Château de Fontainebleau during the Empire. Also he supplied supplied with ormolu bronzework to the palaces of Saint-Cloud, The Trianons, The Tuileries, Compiègne and Rambouillet. Galle’s work is in the collection of museums like Musée National du Château de Malmaison, Musée Marmottan in Paris, the ‘museo de Reloges’ at Jerez de la Frontera, The Residenz in Munich, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Claude Galle died in 1815 after which his son Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846) continued the business.
- Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 326 #5.1.7.
- Jean-Pierre Samoyault, “Pendules et bronzes d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire”, 1989, p. 175 #155.
- Christie’s Paris, 23 October 2003, where a pair of this model appeared in auction.
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