These figural torchères of Contrapposto classical maidens supporting candelabra embody the belle époque fashion for grand interior lighting and were conceived to flank an impressive staircase or doorway. They are reminiscent of the monumental figural torchères, also sculpted by Carrier-Belleuse, and cast by Christofle for the Grand Stairway at the Opéra Garnier, Paris, and like them perfectly encapsulate the monumental opulence and artistic purpose of the travaux haussmanniens.
Many of Carrier-Belleuse's figural torchères were produced in editions later in the century by the principal French foundries. However the present nymphs do not appear in the catalogues of Durenne or Val d'Osne. More usually such torchères were produced in cast-iron, whereas the present pair are in more costly bronze by the foundry Thiébaut Frères.
Rare, the present figures are identical in shape and model, but reduced in scale, to a pair of torchères flanking a mantel clock ‘supplied by the famous sculptor Carrier Belleuse’ which were shown at the Paris Exposition universelle in 1867 (The Art Journal, The Illustrated Catalogue of the Universal Exhibition, London, 1867. p. 112).