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A PAIR OF REGENCY 'RETOUR D'EGYPTE' ORMOLU THREE-LIGHT CANDELABRA
Specified lots (sold and unsold) marked with a fil… Read more
A PAIR OF REGENCY 'RETOUR D'EGYPTE' ORMOLU THREE-LIGHT CANDELABRA

FIRST QUARTER 19TH CENTURY

Details
A PAIR OF REGENCY 'RETOUR D'EGYPTE' ORMOLU THREE-LIGHT CANDELABRA
FIRST QUARTER 19TH CENTURY
Each with a flaming finial and three sphinx branches, the fluted column with lion monopodia base and hoof feet
27 ½ in. (70 cm.) high
Provenance
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 20 April 2007, lot 7.
Special notice

Specified lots (sold and unsold) marked with a filled square not collected from Christie’s by 5.00 pm on the day of the sale will, at our option, be removed to Cadogan Tate. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at Christies.com/storage. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Cadogan Tate Ltd. All collections will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: cscollectionsuk@christies.com. If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

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Lot Essay

These spectacular candelabra are opulent interpretations of the 'Egyptian' style of the early 19th century. A renewed fashion for ancient Egyptian motifs was inspired throughout Europe by the archaeological discoveries made during Napoleon's military campaigns of 1798, recorded by Baron Vivant Denon in his hugely influential Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Egypte (1802). The Egyptian style played an important role in all aspects of art, architecture and the decorative arts, and was disseminated through design books published by such influential figures as Charles Heathcote Tatham, Thomas Hope and George Smith in England, and Charles Percier and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine in France. 
The lower section of the present candelabras depict a stylised anthemion flanked by florets and scrolling zoomorphic supports with lion paw feet, almost certainly modelled on designs of 1799 by Tatham (d. 1842) for antique seats, disseminated in his Etchings representing Fragments of Grecian and Roman Architectural Ornaments (1806) (J. Harris, Regency Furniture Designs 1806-1826, London, 1961, pls. 76, 78 and 79). The latter publication also incorporated related sphinx, and winged griffins derived from antique fragments in white marble of feet to sarcophagi (ibid., pl. 90). Tatham visited Rome in the mid-1790s at the behest of Henry Holland, architect to the Prince of Wales (later George IV), to study antiquities and assist with the decoration and furnishings of Carlton House, and his designs inspired bronziers, gold and silversmiths alike.
A magnificent set of ormolu candelabra formed of Egyptian term supports, reflecting ‘Egyptomania’ in its richest manifestation, was supplied by the most prestigious firm of London goldsmiths of the age, Rundell, Bridge & Rundell. A set of four is in the Royal Collection, acquired by George IV when Prince Regent, in 1811, for £392.0.0 (RCIN 26108). Another pair was supplied to Richard, Marquess Wellesley of Norrago and 2nd Earl of Mornington (d. 1842), probably for Apsley House, London, and a further set of four was almost certainly commissioned in circa 1802-6 by Charles Lennox, 3rd Duke of Richmond, for the Egyptian Dining Room, Goodwood House, Sussex (C. Hartop, Royal Goldsmiths: The Art of Rundell & Bridge 1797-1843, Cambridge, 2005, p. 55, fig. 43; sold Christie’s, New York, 20 October 2004, lots 526, 527 and 528). 
Another outstanding and comparable Rundell, Bridge & Rundell example is the gilt-bronze centrepiece, purchased by the Prince Regent on 4 June 1811 for £504.19s.0d (RCIN 50419). Part of a grand service, of which neither the maker nor designer have been identified, the centrepiece demonstrates yet another serious attempt to reproduce Egyptian designs.
Patterns for wine coolers attributed to Jean-Jacques Boileau, a French artist working in London, and a source of designs for Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, are held at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. They feature similar motifs found on the present example; crouching sphinxes/griffins and sphinx terminating in scrolls, floral paterae and anthemion (M. Snodin, ‘J.J. Boileau: a forgotten designer of silver’, Connoisseur, June 1978, p. 130, fig. 11; H. Young, ‘A Further note on J.J. Boileau, a forgotten designer of silver’, Apollo, October 1986, p. 336, fig. 5). A pair of the former model in silver-gilt, made by Digby Scott and Benjamin Smith II for Rundell Bridge & Rundell, sold Christie’s, New York, 20 October 1999, lot 184.

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