France, Louis XVI period
Attributed to Jean-Louis Prieur (1732-1795)
Chased and gilt bronze
These wall lights are formed by a fluted and roughened shaft torch, held by a knotted ribbon. Garlands of foliage decorate the stem, which upper part is covered with acanthus leaves. From these leaves emerge the first two arms of light, decorated with ragged foliage. The third arms, of the same shape, is attached higher up, to the flame crowning the torch. Each arm of light is finished by a large bobeche, on which is placed, on a small foot, the nozzle. This one is delicately chiseled with a frieze of hearts.
- Attributed to Jean-Louis Prieur, Pair of wall lights, 1774-1792, Petit Trianon, Château de Versailles
- Attributed to Jean-Louis Prieur, Wall lights pair, Château de Drottningholm, Sweden
- Louis-Michel Van Loo, Portrait du marquis de Marigny et de sa femme, née Marie- François Constance Julie Filleul, 1769, Paris, Musée du Louvre (inv. RF 1994 17) : appears in the background a pair of sconces of the same principle
Jean-Louis Prieur (1732-1795)
The general structure and certain details of this pair of sconces allow to attribute these to Jean-Louis Prieur (1732-1795).
Sculptor, he was one of the most illustrious bronze makers of the Neoclassical period. He was a master sculptor at the Académie de Saint-Luc in 1765, then a master founder in 1769. He lived in the faubourg Saint-Denis and then in the enclosure of the Temple, "at the sign of the arms of England". He called himself "Sculptor, Chiseler and gilder of the king" or "sculptor, founder of the King". He worked for King Stanislas-Auguste Poniatowski (royal palace of
Warsaw, 1768, for which many drawings are preserved), for Louis XVI (Carrosse du sacre, 1775) and for Count of Artois.
After 1778 his activity as an ornamentalist became predominant, as attested by the numerous collections of drawings and engravings now preserved.
The Greek taste
The powerfully architectural neoclassicism of these appliques clearly belongs to the end of the reign of Louis XV-the beginning of the reign of Louis XVI, during which the "Greek taste" imposed itself.
Since the 1750s, responding to claims of a small group of critics which where denouncing the extravagance of the rocaille and aspired to recover the “noble simplicity” of the Antiquity masters, started to appear a taste more and more distinct for the neoclassical vocabulary. The travel to Italy organised by the marquise de Pompadour to educate the taste of her brother, Abel Poisson, marquis de Vandières, future directeur-général des bâtiments du Roi1, accompanied by the engraver Charles-Nicolas Cochin, the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot and the abbot Leblanc between November 1749 and March 1751 is considered since the period as the starting point of the “Greek taste”. It was followed in December 1754 by the publication in the Mercure de France of a “supplication aux Orfèvres, Ciseleurs, Sculpteurs en bois pour les appartements et autres” written by Louis-Sébastien Mercier, truthful advocacy in favour of the straight line, the respect of the proportions and balance, and an urgent reminder to the nobility of the antique ornamental repertory. In the 1760s, it is thus how this new taste took over the capital city like a real craziness. Painters, cabinetmakers and bronzers among whom Jean-Louis Prieur, knew how to respond to this aspiration in the 1760s, offering forms to powerful treatment that gradually however gradually softened as evidenced by this pair of sconces.
1 The administration of the King’s building depends on the department of the House of the King. In 1726, the function is called Direction Générale. The Directeur Générale is assisted by the Great architect of the King and the Great painter of the king.
Pierre Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, édition Picard, 1987
Catalogue collectif, Dessiner et ciseler le bronze. Jean-Louis Prieur (1732-1795), musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, 2015 [consulté le 8 avril 2016], disponible sur : http://www.lesartAsdecoratifs.fr/francais/musees/musee-nissim-de- camondo/actualites/archives-986/exposition-dossier/dessiner-et-ciseler-le-bronze-jean-louis- prieur-1732-1795
Hans Ottomeyer, Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen : die Bronzenarbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, München, 1986, p. 173.
48 000 €
7 500 €
6 500 €