A stunning large pair of fire gilded and patinated bronze five-light French Empire candelabra with Victories, attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751–1843). On a globe, on top of the circular pedestal, stands the allegory of Victory. She holds a flower basket with four cornucopia arms around a central fifth light. A larger version of these candelabra, with a different base, was delivered to the Grand Trianon in Versailles by Thomire. Our pair of candelabra is of important size and the detailed chiseling is befitting for this pair which is in excellent original condition with its beautiful mercury gilding.
Made after a design by Charles Percier, these French Empire candelabra depict winged Victories wearing classical robes gathered by a gilded sash. They each hold in their hands an intricately detailed bouquet of lights formed as a flower basket. Further, from this flower basket sprouts a central upright candle branch, finely decorated with flower patterns, and crowned by a candle holder. Surrounding the central branch we see four other branches of light with foliage scrolls. Each of these lights is terminated by a finely chiseled candle holder with flower decorations. Finally, each of the winged Victories balances on two feet upon a sphere. This sphere rests on a base of palmettes which is set on a circular patinated bronze pedestal with a finely chiseled flower pattern. The whole rests on a stepped square base.
Similar candelabra were designed by Charles Percier (1764–1838) for the boudoir of Empress Josephine at the Château de Saint-Cloud. This pair of French Empire candelabra is in an excellent state of preservation with beautiful mercury gilding.
About The Design
The personification of Victory as a winged figure was well known in Antiquity as evidenced by a Roman model showing a very similar figure upon a sphere. This figure is now in the National Art Collection, Kassel. The figure became an integral element within Empire design through the intervention of Charles Percier (1764-1838) and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853). Percier and Fontaine were Napoleon’s most important architects and designers. The design for the present pair of candelabra is believed to have derived from a design by Charles Percier which was successfully exploited by Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843).
Origin: Paris circa 1810.
Dimensions: 75 cm high, diameter of the crown of lights 28 cm. Size of the square base: 14 x 14 cm.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843)
Pierre-Philippe Thomire was a French sculptor, who became the most prominent producer of ornamental patinated and gilt-bronze objects and furniture mounts in the First French Empire period. Although trained as a sculptor, Thomire decided to follow his father into the profession of bronze caster. He had received his training in the workshop of Pierre Gouthière, the outstanding Parisian ciseleur-doreur working in the Louis XVI style, before establishing his own shop in 1776.
In 1804 Thomire acquired the business of the marchand-mercier, Martin-Eloi Lignereux. The company employed a large workforce in a workshop at rue Boucherat and a showroom at rue Taitbout. From there Thomire retailed a large range of decorative objects inspired by antiquity including candelabra, extravagant centrepieces, clock cases and monumental Greek and Roman style urns and vases.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire was the greatest craftsman of his age to work in gilt bronze. He was patronised by Louis XVI, Napoleon and Louis XVIII as well as foreign monarchy and aristocracy. Thomire’s fame and notoriety was then propelled to even greater heights after the Revolution when in 1806 he became the first bronzier to be awarded a gold medal at the Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie. In 1809 he won another gold medal and was also appointed ciseleur de l’Empereur. In addition to Napoleon himself, Thomire was patronised by the Emperor’s family and many foreign royal courts. Because of the large number of pieces Thomire supplied to the palaces, his firm became fournisseur de leurs majestés (Furniture Suppliers to their Majesties) two years later. His work represents some of the finest examples of the Empire design.
At the height of his business, it is estimated that Thomire employed six or seven hundred workers. Thomire retired from his firm in 1823.
- Lempertz, Cologne, May 2023, where a pair of the same model appeared in auction.
- Koller Auktionen, Zürich, September 2011, where a comparable model appeared in auction.
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4 000 €