An extremely fine pair of Empire gilt bronze three-light candelabra attributed to Charles Galle, after a design by Charles Percier, each with a winged figure of Victory with plaited hair and wearing diaphanous robes gathered at the waist, holding aloft a candelabrum formed as an urn issuing three foliate-wrapped scrolled branches, each terminated by a vase-shaped candle holder mounted with acanthus leaves, each classical figure with both her feet upon a sphere raised on a stepped rectangular pedestal mounted at the front with an Apollo mask, on a square stepped base
Paris, date circa 1810-15
Height 63 cm. each.
Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 307, colour pl. XXXIX, illustrating a comparable unattributed pair of candelabra in the Villa Hardt, Eltville. And p. 335, pl. 5.2.18, illustrating one of a pair of similar candelabra featuring a winged Victory, which was delivered by Galle on 23rd October 1809 to the Grand Trianon, Versailles. And p. 705, pl. 21, illustrating one of a similar pair of candelabra by Galle, which was delivered by him on 23rd December 1809 to the Boudoir of the Petit Trianon, Versailles. And 328, pl. 5.2.1, illustrating two related studies from a detail on a sheet of designs by Charles Percier of circa 1802, now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, for furnishings for Joséphine Bonaparte’s boudoir at Château de Saint Cloud.
The personification of Victory as a winged figure was well known in Antiquity as evidenced by a Roman model showing a very similar figure upon a sphere, now in the National Art Collection, Kassel (illustrated ibid. p. 329, pl. 5.2.3). The figure became an integral element within Empire design through the intervention of Charles Percier (1764-1838) and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853), Napoleon’s most important architects and designers. The design for the present pair of candelabra is believed to have derived from a design by Charles Percier, as part of a commission to furnish Empress Josephine’s bedroom at the chateau de St. Cloud. The design for candelabra with winged Victories was successfully exploited by both Claude Galle (1759-1815) and Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843). Two such pairs of candelabra were supplied by Galle to both the Grand and the Petit Trianon in 1809.
Together with Pierre-Philippe Thomire, Claude Galle was the leading bronzier during the late Louis XVI and Empire periods. Born at Villepreux near Versailles, he travelled to Paris to begin an apprenticeship under the fondeur, Pierre Foy. In 1784 Galle married Foy’s daughter and on his father-in-law’s death in 1788, Galle took over the workshop, which he built up into one the finest of its kind with a workforce of about 400 craftsmen. Galle promptly moved the business to Quai de la Monnaie (renamed Quai de 1’Unité) and from 1805 operated from 60 Rue Vivienne. First listed in the trade registers in 1784, he was received as a maître-fondeur in 1786, and promptly gained the first of many commissions from the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne under Jean Hauré from 1786-88. He is known to have collaborated with Thomire, amongst others, and was responsible for the majority of bronzes d’ameublement supplied during the Empire to Château de Fontainebleau. Other Imperial commissions included the supply of numerous vases, ewers, light fittings, figural clock cases and other fine bronze furnishings for the palaces at Saint-Cloud, the Trianons, Tuileries, Compiègne, Rambouillet and a number of the Italian palaces including Monte Cavallo, Rome and Stupinigi near Turin. Despite numerous important commissions Galle was often in debt, partly owing to his lavish life style and also because many of his clients, such as Prince Joseph Napoleon, failed to pay him. After his death Galle’s business was reopened and prospered under his son, Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846). His work can be found among the world’s finest collections including those mentioned above as well as the Musée National de Château de Malmaison, the Musée Marmottan in Paris, the Museo de Relojes at Jerez de la Frontera, the Residenz Munich and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
17 500 €
6 700 €