This pair of beautifully-chased and patinated bronze figures supporting scrolling arabesque branches are amongst a group of related candelabra featuring identical figures, but with a variety of different designs of base and branches. The sole difference in form between the treatment of the figures of this wide group and those of the present candelabra is the design of the drapery around the bust and shoulders. The existence of variations of base and branch combinations points towards the involvement of the rue St. Honoré marchand-mercier Dominique Daguerre working in collaboration with one or more bronziers.
Daguerre supplied a pair of these figures supporting three branches about a central light to George, Prince of Wales, later George IV for Carlton House, which were recorded in his Pictorial Inventory and were subsequently moved to Buckingham Palace (illustrated in situ on the mantelpiece in the White Drawing Room in J. Harris et al., Buckingham Palace and its Treasures, New York, 1968, p. 59).
The striding Bacchantes supporting spiralling cornucopia appear in a design for a candelabrum of circa 1785, now held in the musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, which was almost certainly executed by Daguerre. The highly finished character of this drawing would seem to suggest that it was perhaps made as 'sales material' for the dealer’s clients, as with the Sachsen-Teschen album in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (59.611.8), rather than as a working design for a bronzier (Ottomeyer & Pröschel, op. cit., p. 283, fig. 4.14.4). Interestingly, pedestals of the design featured in the 1785 drawing were also supplied to the Prince of Wales by Henry Holland for Carlton House (Harris, op. cit., p. 194).
The branches of these candelabra directly correspond to the documented oeuvre of the ciseleur-doreur Pierre-François Feuchère (1737-1823). Through the sculpteur and entrepreneur des Meubles de la Couronne Jean Hauré (active 1774-91), Feuchère supplied two pairs of three-branch wall-lights featuring acanthus-wrapped scrolling branches, bunches of grapes and the distinctive winged putto to the central branch to the cabinet de toilette of Marie-Antoinette at Saint-Cloud in 1787 and two slightly different pairs to the cabinet-intérieur of Louis XVI at Saint Cloud (the former are now in the Louvre, cat. C. Dr. No 343-344; the latter are in the Elysée Palace; P. Verlet, Les Bronzes Dorés Français du XVIII siècle, Paris, 1999, pp. 378-80 and 382, figs. 385-7 and 391-2).
Historically this model, which is of extremely high quality, was also attributed to Pierre Gouthière, and many 19th-century sales catalogues include examples credited to him. However, the discovery of Hauré’s memoires, in which he describes the models supplied to Saint-Cloud with the date 29 September 1787 and the name Feuchère, has revised this attribution. The Feuchères were certainly the owners, if not the creators, of this model and were free to reproduce it at will and with variations.
A set of four very similar candelabra with spirally-fluted ormolu and bronze bases and fluted scrolling branches were commissioned to be placed in the four corners of a salon and are now in the Wallace Collection, London (F142-5; Ottomeyer & Pröschel, op. cit., p. 282, fig. 4.12.2).
Further examples of candelabra featuring the same figure as the present pair include: a pair of almost identical design to the pair supplied to George IV, formerly in the collections of Léopold Levy, the Dhainault family, C.-E. Hodgkins and most recently in the Wildenstein Collection, sold Christie’s, London, 14-15 December 2005, lot 27 (£142,400); a pair in the Red Drawing Room at Longleat, Wiltshire, which feature five rose and lily-spray branches and fluted white marble pedestals; a pair of three-light examples with rose and lily-spray branches on rectangular bases which were recorded in the comtesse de Flahaut’s ‘List of things at Coventry House. June 1863’ (sold as property of the Meikleour Estate Trust, Christie’s, London, 11 June 1992, lot 56); and a pair with associated branches and square white marble bases formerly in the collection of Ogden Mills (sold Christie’s, London, 9 December 2012, lot 207).
The design of the figures is also stylistically reminiscent of those executed by Rémond, and sold by Daguerre in December 1785 to Princess Marie-Leopoldine Kinsky for her hôtel in the rue Saint Dominique (see C. Baulez, 'Le Luminaire de la Princesse Kinsky', L'Objet d'Art, May 1991, p. 89). The existence of such different combinations using the same or similar figures, in addition to the aforementioned drawing, all suggest that Daguerre was the principal instigator in the formation of these exceptional candelabra.