Superb and truly decorative pair of gilded bronze Empire period candelabra with winged Victories. These Victories support an arched and plantlike rod. On top of this arched rod we see a laurel wreath decorated with a ribbon. Further, the laurel wreath has a palmette in its center, and decorations of flowers and wheat on both sides. Both candelabra carry three lights, each of them with intricate floral decorations. Finally, these candelabra have a cylindrical barrel, intricately detailed, standing on a square base.
During the Empire period, the Victory figure became an integral element within Empire design. Especially through the intervention of Charles Percier (1764-1838) and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853), Napoleon’s most important architects and designers. The designs of Charles Percier were successfully exploited by Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) as well as his contemporary Claude Galle (1759-1815). The intricate design of this lustrous pair of Empire candelabra reminds us of the works of top bronzier Pierre Philippe Thomire.
The personification of Victory as a winged figure was well known in Antiquity. For example, it is evidenced by a Roman model showing a very similar figure upon a sphere. This model is now in the National Art Collection, Kassel (illustrated in Ottomeyer and Pröschel). The Roman transformation of the Greek goddess Nike flying up and settling down with the victor was the “Victoria Romana”. It hovers over the globe as a symbol of the all-encompassing victory and claim to power of the Roman world empire. The goddess of victory over the globe was reserved for the emperor as a symbol of power.
This pair of French Empire candelabra with Victories is highly decorative and is in a very good condition.
- H. Ottomeyer, P. Proschel et al., ” Vergoldete Bronzen – Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus“, Munich, 1986, Vol. I, p. 329, fig. 5.2.3.
- Sotheby’s New York, 22 October 2014, where a pair of this model appeared in auction.
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