A magnificent pair of Empire gilt and patinated bronze and blue enamelled seven-light candelabra each with the stem formed as an ancient priestess with her hands held aloft as if offering a sacrifice as she supports two of six foliate-wrapped candle branches issuing at one end a vase-shaped nozzle and at the other a conformingly shaped terminal, the ring of branches centred by a blue enamel gilt star-studded globe on a foliate-cast cup supported on the priestess’s head and surmounted by a swan with wings outstretched supporting the seventh vase-shaped candle holder, the priestess standing on a columnar plinth mounted with palmette banding and centred by the figure of Pegasus rearing on hind legs, the plinth flanked by a pair of putti seated on an antique stool playing a horn, upon a two tiered shaped base
Paris, date circa 1805
Height 91 cm, width 33 cm. each.
Literature: Marie-France Dupuy-Baylet, “L’Heure, Le Feu, La Lumière, Les Bronzes du Mobilier National 1800-1870”, 2010, pp. 114-5, no. 57, illustrating and describing a near identical pair of candelabra in the Palais de Saint-Cloud; the only difference being that the latter have a single rather than double tiered base and are thus 2.5 cm shorter but are the same width.
These sumptuous candelabra are identical in design to a pair in the Palais de Saint-Cloud which were included in the palace’s inventory 3rd June 1805 when indicated as in la chambre à coucher de l’Impératrice and described as ‘petits candélabres représentant une femme portant sur sa tête un globe bleu, à six lumières surmonté d’un cigne, bronzés et dorés’. The following year they were described in more detail with the globe ‘parsemé d’étoiles, terminés par un cigne portant une lumière” and that the figures were ‘posées sur un fût de colonne au vert antique, ornée de chevaux marin et figures.’ They were later moved to le boudoir des petits appartements de ’Impératrice and then to le salon de réception de Monsieur. Subsequently they were in le premier salon de la duchesse de Berry and then housed in le cabinet de travail de Madame Adélaïde. During the Second Empire they lived in le salon bleu de l’appartement de la grande-duchess de Bade but were then removed from Saint-Cloud in 1873 by the Garde-Meuble. In addition to the above can be cited other identical examples including a pair sold at Sotheby’s London, 5th June 1964, lot 110, another with putti and base in patinated bronze (offered by Couturier-Nicolay, Paris, 29th March 1977, lot 25) and finally those from the celebrated collection of Charles de Beistegui from Château de Groussay (sold by Sotheby’s, Paris, 2nd June 1999, lot 232).
Although the maker is unknown and none of the above examples bear a maker’s mark their design compares with other candelabra and bronzes made by two of the Empire’s most celebrated bronziers namely Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) and Claude Galle (1751-1815). The latter featured a swan support as a wall-light in the Grand Trianon, Versailles (illustrated in Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 357, pl. 5.10.8) while a number of Empire chandeliers featured a central star-studded globe for instance one by Pierre-Victor Ledure (b. 1783 d. post 1840) as well as another in Schloss Wilhelmshöhe, Kassel (respectively illustrated Ottomeyer and Pröschel, p. 359, pls. 5.11.4 and 5.11.5).
The overall design of the candelabra embodies the spirit of the Empire. Firstly the priestesses pay direct reference to the goût Égyptien inspired by Napoleon’s Egyptian campaigns and promoted by Baron Vivant-Denon. Swans also assumed importance during Napoleon’s reign and became an emblem of his power; in the same way Pegasus, the mythological winged horse, came to symbolise the personification of Fame who was often represented seated on a globe, while the globe itself became a symbol of sovereignty over the world.
Price : on request