An extremely fine set of four Louis XVI gilt bronze two-light candelabra attributed to a design by Jean-Charles Delafosse and inscribed in red with the Cleveland Museum of Art accession numbers 72.124-127, each surmounted by a budding flower head surrounded by unfurling petals above two acanthus-wrapped scrolled branches issuing vase-shaped candle holders, each enclosed by an acanthus cup upon a splayed drip-pan, the central stem headed by similarly shaped vases to the candle holders upon a part-fluted tapering shaft with lower ring of acanthus leaves upon a spreading fluted foot with laurel wreath banding
Paris, date circa 1775
Height 37 cm. each.
Provenance: Jacques Perrin, Paris. The Cleveland Museum of Art until recently.
Literature: F. J. B. Watson, “The Wrightsman Collection”, 1966, vol. II, p. 340, no. 171, illustrating one of a pair of candlesticks of very similar overall form and incidental detail to the present candelabra stems. Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 187, pls. 3.9.6 and 3.9.7, illustrating two similarly styled wall-lights of circa 1775 after designs by Jean-Charles Delafosse.
This superb set of Louis XVI candelabra boast an excellent provenance having been with the Jacques Perrin antiques gallery, Paris and then in the Cleveland Museum of Art. Recently the latter decided to sell the set, along with a number of other fine Louis XVI pieces, to benefit future art and antique acquisitions.
The overall style of these fine candelabra closely relate to designs by Jean-Charles Delafosse (1734-89), comparing for example with two different wall-lights as illustrated in Ottomeyer and Pröschel(noted above) as well as a pair of three-branch candelabra with a central flaming finial, sold by Christie’s Paris 19th December 2007, lot 311, which likewise were attributed to Delafosse. As a Parisian architect, ornamental designer and engraver, Delafosse played an important role in disseminating the ‘goût antique’. Although he was apprenticed in 1747 to the sculptor Jean-Baptiste Poullet (d. 1775) he does not seem to have completed his apprenticeship. Rather he concentrated his energies toward becoming a designer and architect. To this effect by 1767 he styled himself architecte et professeur pour le dessin. It was as an innovative and radical designer that Delafosse was his most influential. In 1768 he published the first volume of his most important work, the “Nouvelle Iconologie Historique”, containing 110 plates, most of which Delafosse engraved himself. Included were designs for furniture, decorative objects and architectural ornament in the heavy, classicising Louis XVI style. Up until the mid 1780’s he continued to create numerous designs for trophies, cartouches, furniture, vases and light fittings, which were predominantly
through the print seller Chereau. In all of them Delafosse favoured antique forms, which as here often incorporated vases or urns as well as bold Neo-classical forms with heavy inverted scrolls. Delafosse is known to have designed two houses (1776–83), the Hôtel Titon and the Hôtel Goix both in the Rue du Faubourg-Poissonière, Paris. Although they exhibit little structural innovation, their ornamentation reveals characteristic touches such as lions’heads adorning the main entrance of the Hôtel Titon as well as laurel branches above the doors, classical arabesques friezes between the floor levels in the courtyard and two large classical urns in the vestibule. Appointed assistant professor of geometry and perspective at the Académie de Saint-Luc, Delafosse later became a member of the Académie de Bordeaux (1781), where he exhibited a number of his drawings. In 1789 he joined the Garde National, Paris and is known to have played an active role in the French Revolution.
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