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A Pair Of Louis XV Wall Lights With ‘faun’ Masks
A Pair Of Louis XV Wall Lights With ‘faun’ Masks - Lighting Style Louis XVI A Pair Of Louis XV Wall Lights With ‘faun’ Masks -
Ref : 113287
9 000 €
Period :
18th century
Provenance :
Medium :
Dimensions :
l. 7.09 inch X H. 11.42 inch X P. 4.72 inch
Lighting  - A Pair Of Louis XV Wall Lights With ‘faun’ Masks
Galerie Lamy Chabolle

Decorative art from 18th to 20th century

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A Pair Of Louis XV Wall Lights With ‘faun’ Masks

A pair of two Louis XVI wall lights with ‘Faun’ masks.
Ormolu, chased.
ca. 1770.
h. 11,4 in. ; w. 7 in. ; d. 4,7 in.

A pair of two-light wall lights in ormolu, with a Faun's head whose beard turns into each light arms adorned with foliage. The head of the Faun, topped with large acanthus leaves, rests against the scroll of a burnished gilt bronze pilaster, decorated with piastres and some smaller acanthus leaves.
This pair is perhaps the rarest example of a set of wall lights depicting heads of Fauns whose moustaches and beards form the base from which the arm lights emerge. The first example of this series (fig. 1), sold for $20,315 at Christie's in New York on 16 April 2002, was attributed to Jean-Louis Prieur. A similar model was sold at Christie's in New York on 9 December 2004 (28,680 £), another at Artcurial on 4 November 2010 (11,730 €) and one at Sotheby's on 19 November 2019 in Paris (16,000 €). Yet another pair is described in the inventory of the Musée Nissim de Camondo, at no. 600.

We know that this model, illustrated in L'Art pour tous, 17e année, p. 1758, is subject to variations, the most striking being a model sold for 37,500 € at Sotheby's in Paris during the Bernard Baruch Steinitz sale on 30 June 2016 ; a particularly rare model with a single arm of light, coming out of the Faun’s mouth, passing through his moustache and beard. These wall lights have in common, of course, their iconography, with their Faun's head resting against a scrolled rocaille console ; the top of the head is crowned with large acanthus leaves wrought with a matt finish ; the foliate-edged branches emerge from the Faun’s facial hair ; each branch is screwed to the basin and the wick ; the wick is lathed and decorated with rosettes.

The attribution of this model to Jean-Louis Prieur in 2002 was not well-founded. The two-armed sconces dated and attributed with certainty to Prieur certainly share with this ensemble certain elements typical of gilded bronzes from the Transition period : the wall lights are built around a pilaster or console à la grecque, crowned with a figure, thus forming a Terminus or an Herm. All the above models, whose light arms rise from the moustaches, as well as the model with one light arm from the collections of Bernard Baruch Steinitz, have less in common with Prieur's models than our own model, consisting of a pilaster adorned with piastres : the console of the previous models is closer to the Louis XV or rocaille style, and undoubtedly dates from the early days of the so-called Transition style. This console, on its own, is completely Louis XV, and is not found in the Herms or Termini light arms designed by Prieur.

Although the attribution to Prieur is uncertain, the following similarities can be noted between this model with a pilaster and the piastres and the wall lights attributed almost with certainty thanks to Prieur's drawings, in particular those in the Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris, originally intended for the royal castle of Warsaw : the shaft of the wall lights is made up of a pilaster, resting on a fir-cone knob and on a base of acanthus leaves sculpted and then treated au mat ; the protruding parts of the pilaster are burnished while its base is decorated with mat motifs ; the "eyes" of the acanthus leaves are emphasised by a stroke of specific tool called a “bouge”. The branches are assembled to the pilaster by a carré d’ajustage and the basins are joined to the branches by a spindle.

Without taking the risk of attributing it to Jean-Louis Prieur, these stylistic and technical elements, with regards to the mounting and the chasing and the gilding, allow us to date this pair of wall lights in the mid-1770s : the previous models, sold at Christie's, Sotheby's and Artcurial, were dated, with some certainty, in the mid-1760s ; this model, in a purer, more assertive neoclassical style, seems to be some sort of an hyphen between these early Transition models and the beginning of the proper Louis XVI style.

The branches have been very discreetly pierced for electrification. A weakness in one of the light arms has been reinforced by soldering. Some wear and tarnishing of the gilding due to age.


Émile Reiber, Claude Sauvageot, Pierre Gélis-Didot and Henry Guédy, L'Art pour tous, 17th year, n° 440, 1878.

Hans Ottomeyer, Peter Pröschel et al, Vergoldete Bronzen. Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, t. I, Munich, 1986.

Nissim de Camondo Museum, Paris, 1990.

Marc Voisot and Éric Thiriet, ‘Contribution technique à l'authentification des bras de lumière du Musée Nissim de Camondo attribués à Jean-Louis Prieur’, in Dessiner et ciseler le bronze. Jean-Louis Prieur (1732-1795), Paris, 2015.

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