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A PAIR OF EMPIRE ORMOLU AND PATINATED BRONZE SEVEN-LIGHT CANDELABRA
A PAIR OF EMPIRE ORMOLU AND PATINATED BRONZE SEVEN-LIGHT CANDELABRA
A PAIR OF EMPIRE ORMOLU AND PATINATED BRONZE SEVEN-LIGHT CANDELABRA
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THE PROPERTY OF A DISTINGUISHED EUROPEAN COLLECTOR
A PAIR OF EMPIRE ORMOLU AND PATINATED BRONZE SEVEN-LIGHT CANDELABRA

ATTRIBUTED TO CLAUDE GALLE, CIRCA 1805

Details
A PAIR OF EMPIRE ORMOLU AND PATINATED BRONZE SEVEN-LIGHT CANDELABRA
ATTRIBUTED TO CLAUDE GALLE, CIRCA 1805
Each of exceptional scale and modelled with two adorsed female Muses holding musical instruments and seated on starred orbs, the central stem cast with foliage and berries and surmounted by an athenienne with central nozzle on swan and lion monopodiae supports, flanked by a pair of scrolling branches headed by griffin busts and terminating in roundels cast with griffins in relief, divided by four further branches headed by male masks and flambeau nozzles, on a rectangular base mounted with a relief of Apollo and his chariot flanked by nymphs to the front and niches inset with classical busts to the sides, on recumbent griffin feet, above a plinth base and turned feet
43 ¼ in. (110 cm.) high; 19 ½ in. (49.5 cm.) wide; 8 in. (20 cm.) deep
Literature
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE

Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi, Tripodi, etc., Rome, 1778, pl. 44.
Percier & Fontaine, Recueil de Décorations Intérieures, Paris, 1801, plates XIX, XXIV.
H. Ottomeyer, P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich, 1986, vol. II, p. 669, fig. 4.
M-F. Dupuy-Baylet, L’Heure, le feu, la lumière Les Bronzes du Mobilier National 1800-1870, Dijon, 2010, p. 60, fig. 18.

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Lot Essay

The casting, chasing, decorative motifs, and quality of this impressive pair of candelabra all point to the oeuvre of the celebrated bronzier, Claude Galle (d. 1815). The exuberance of the decoration, and exceptional scale suggests a significant commission, possibly for a Russian patron.

CLAUDE GALLE

Galle was amongst the greatest bronziers and fondeur-ciseleurs of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods. First patronised by the Garde-meuble de la Couronne, he is known to have collaborated with, amongst others, Pierre-Philippe Thomire (d. 1843), and was responsible for much of the bronzes d'ameublement supplied to the château de Fontainebleau during the Empire. Galle's pieces were acquired in great number by the Russian Imperial family and aristocratic followers while on visits to Paris, which accounts for the important numbers of his pieces remaining in the many state palace museums of St. Petersburg today.
The present candelabras feature a profusion of Empire ornament, drawn heavily from the Antique, and popularised in Percier & Fontaine’s Recueil de Décorations Intérieures, first published in 1801. The athenienne supporting the uppermost nozzle, derives from a 1st or 2nd A.D. model discovered in the Temple of Isis in Pompeii in the 1760s, engraved by Giovanni Battista Piranesi, from a drawing by Vincenzo Brenna, in his Vasi, Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi, Tripodi, etc. of 1778, pl. 44. Further, the swan with its association to Apollo and the muses, a popular motif during the Empire, features on a similar gueridon in Percier & Fontaine (pl. XIX).
Virtually identical masks on the middle candle branches are found on a pair of wall lights supplied in 1809 by the marchand-tapissier, Darrac, to the Garde-Meuble for Empress Josephine’s bedchamber at the palais Rohan, Strasbourg. The latter are very similar to a pair of wall-lights furnished by Galle for Napoléon’s second petit salon at the château de Compiègne (Dupuy-Baylet, op. cit., p. 60, fig. 18).
Other ornamentation characteristic of Galle includes the winged griffins to the candle branches and within the roundels. Identical griffins are on a pair of candelabras attributed to Galle, sold Hôtel Drouot, 22 September 2012, lot 101, and the same griffins are featured on another pair of unattributed candelabra, sold Sotheby’s New York, 10 November 2006, lot 104, which are probably by Galle.
Further, identical bas relief appliques depicting Apollo and his chariot, almost certainly a political illusion, are on a fender with pierced grill; the latter comparable to a fender delivered by Galle in 1811 for Empress Josephine’s bedchamber at the château de Bagatelle (op. cit., p. 158, no. 86). A simpler grill is also found on a group of fenders delivered in 1806 by Galle and Antoine-André Ravrio to the château de Fontainebleau. The same Apollo frieze can also be seen on each end of an Empire fender sold Christie's, London, 26 January 2011, lot 315.
Finally, the lyre and the aforementioned related masks on the middle candle branches can be seen in a pair of ewers attributed to Galle (sold most recently at Christie's, London, 5 July 2013, lot 162, £71,475) and probably made for the Russian market. The lyre and classically-draped seated female figures can also be found on an Empire clock signed 'Galle/rue Vivienne no 9' (sold Christie's, Monaco, 19 June 1999, lot 89).

FEUCHÈRE, PÈRE ET FILS

A candelabra of similar form by Pierre-François Feuchère (d. 1823) and his son, Lucien-François Feuchère (d. circa 1841), was exhibited at the 1819 Industrial Exhibition, Paris, illustrated in an engraving in Ottomeyer and Pröschel, op. cit., vol. II, p. 669, fig. 4.
Little is known about the life of Feuchère, père and fils, who ran one of the largest Parisian workshops for the production of luxury gilt bronze objects from the 1760s through the early decades of the 1800s. Together they produced pieces such as clock cases, wall lights, and candelabra for an international clientele, including French, German, and Austrian nobility. Feuchère produced a mantel clock with a bas-relief entitled 'The Triumph of the Commander’ for Napoléon’s apartments at Compiègne; a virtually identical clock in the Hermitage was purchased for the Winter Palace before 1811 from Jean-Pierre Lancry, a shop-owner with workshops in St. Petersburg producing artistic bronzes. The mantel clock has a similarly sculpted patinated bronze figure, and related bas-reliefs representing Mars the god of war and the goddess Cybele riding a lion, the embodiment of fruitfulness and a prosperous life. Another mantel clock representing Day and Night, circa 1820, has similar seated patinated bronze figures but in this example depicting Apollo and Diana supported by Putti (with Mallett, Apollo, October 1989, p. 3).

Galle, Thomire and Feuchère, père et fils, are considered the finest bronziers of the period. Working for the same clientele, often collaborating, and using similar sources for inspiration, they undoubtedly created comparable forms with similar ornamentation, and thus their work is often confused.

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