Rare pair of Empire period candlesticks in sterling silver, 1st title (950‰). Each candlestick is decorated with three sheathed figures of Egyptian women carrying the Nemes, supporting the socket in the shape of an antique vase decorated with a frieze of palm leaves on the bottom and a frieze of delicately chiseled flowers on the bobeches. The hexagonal barrel is finely engraved with a fall of florets and roses. Narrowing towards the base, it rests on a small terrace with gadroon molding by three claws of clawed lions. The circular foot with a plain throat and terrace is adorned with a frieze of palm leaves.
Engraved with the MFT monogram in English letters on the base. The bobeches marked with the same monogram.
Hallmarks - on torches and bobeches -
• 1er coq Paris 1798-1809,
• Moyenne garantie Paris,
• Hallmark of the Association des orfèvres.
• Master silversmith JGAB, a helmet in the middle of flags (Gabriel-Jacques-André BOMPART).
This pair is similar to torches in gilded silver from the imperial collections of the Tsars of Russia by the goldsmith Pierre PARAUD preserved in the Louvre museum (inv. OA9875) as well as a pair sold by the widow of Pierre PARAUD, Marguerite HOGUET , around 1813. Likewise for a pair of candlesticks presented at the Centennial Museum at the Exposition Universelle de 1900 in Paris from the ARTUS collection.
The famous master-founder Claude GALLE will produce many variants similar to this model, in chased and gilded bronze, of which he delivers a copy in 1804 to the Palais de Fontainebleau and of which a model is inventoried in 1813 in the library of the Empress at the Palais de l'Élysée, the circulation of the patterns explained by the diffusion of collections of drawings for the use of goldsmiths, in particular by the architect Charles PERCIER, the Emperor NAPOLEON making the need to establish an imperial style a political goal.
These candlesticks are a rare and interesting testimony of the table silverware at the beginning of the 1st Empire, of what will be called the "style Return from Egypt".
Egypt has fascinated people for centuries, and especially in France since the 18th century with the distribution of books by travelers with precise illustrations. Objects inspired by Egyptian art appeared in France and Europe, constituting the current of what will be called "Egyptomania". Queen MARIE-ANTOINETTE, as well as the Comte d'ARTOIS, among others, will show a marked taste for these decorations, of which she will help launch and develop fashion.
When General BONAPARTE embarked on the military campaign of Egypt with this awareness, he asked that a large number of scientists accompany the army. Very early on, it was decided that the product of their research and surveys should be published, and in 1802 the consul ordered the publication of La Description de l'Égypte, which would become the most monumental book ever published.
Managed by the state to make people forget the bitter military failure of this campaign, a real official fashion will be organized in France, spreading all over Europe to Russia.
The "Return from Egypt" style will extend over a fairly short period, giving way to the "Political" Empire style, but demonstrated remarkable inventiveness and great finesse of execution, a preamble to the official style which then dominated. the period.
One of the characteristics of the current will be the production of high quality objects. Egyptian table services by the Manufacture de SÈVRES, goldsmiths items by AUGUSTE, furniture, torches, andirons or inkwells by the most illustrious cabinetmakers and bronzers of the time, constitute precious testimonies in the same vein as our candlesticks.
The refinement of these objects undoubtedly corresponds to what has been noted as a renewal after the obscurity of the Revolution and the Directoire, a renewal all the more developed as it will be desired by a consul who has become emperor wanting to establish quickly leadership in the continuity of the greatest historical periods of the kingdom.
It is therefore interesting to mention this extract from a text by Henri BOUILHET (1830-1910), founding member and president of the Union Centrale des Arts décoratifs :
"We must admit, at this time of the Empire, manners had regained the pace and the tone of good company of the old regime, and houses had formed which could, without in any way suffering, support the comparison of the best known in the time of Louis XVI. The table especially had lost in these circles “of its democratic plethora and its splendours of upstart.” We got used to the idea that taste comes from measure, and that "There is grace in substituting quality for quantity. Thanks to educators, such as TALLEYRAND, Mme de MONTESSON and a few other distinguished figures, we understood that a cutlery, to be perfect, should not be bothered with the bastard accumulations that we had seen spread out under the Directoire, and silly silverware that we had so admired at the outset. The comfortable type of a dining room then was neither Pompeian nor Etruscan, but decorated with stucco in calm and clear tones, without too much furniture or equipment. The table is round, supported by chimeras or sphinxes, covered with a tablecloth of Saxony, passed to the cylinder, embroidered with the master's figure. In the center is the silver planter (...) then here are the candlesticks, whose branches often end with Egyptian heads, and whose feet rest on lion claws".
However, examples of goldsmithing from this short stylistic period are rare, mainly concerning silver candlesticks. While many models of brass, gilt brass and gilded bronze in the Return of Egypt style are known, few torches of solid silver exist. This makes this pair all the more precious testimony.
Jacques-Gabriel BOMPART is a little known goldsmith. We know that he had his mark registered in Paris in 1803 and that he is established at No. 20 in Place Dauphine, Paris.
His style was embodied in the Empire period, BOMPART developing an absolute and remarkable mastery of the iconographic vocabulary of this period. In particular, a remarkable butterfly sugar bowl from the HUGOT donation or an exceptional vermeil jam maker, preserved at the MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS DE PARIS (inv. 29291 and inv. 45814).
• PARIS, MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS, "40 ans de la Fondation Hugot du Collège de France, Hommage à Hélène et Jean-Pierre Hugot donateurs du Musée des Arts Décoratifs".
• PARIS, MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS, "Ils donnent : 10 ans de donations", 20 March 1979 – 13 July 1979.
• PARIS, MUSÉE DES ARTS DÉCORATIFS, "À quoi ça sert ? Se reposer, se nourrir – Se nourrir : les services", Galerie d'études,15 September 2006 - January 2008.