The chenet representing Aegina is virtually identical to the example illustrated in Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschels Vergoldete Bronzen, Munich 1986, pp. 70-71, cat. nr. 1.10.8. (the illustration is erroniously numbered 1.10.9). The chenet illustrated is shown as the present pair would have been originally, without the later bases.
These two chenets each representing a different mythological story with the abduction by Jupiter as common denominator. One of the identities of Jupiter is that of defendor of the hearth, it is probably in this role that the creator of these chenets chose to depict him.
Aegina was the daughter of the river god Asopus and Metope, she was the twin sister of Thebe. Jupiter carried her of in the guise of an eagle to the island Oenone, now called Aegina after her. She had one son by Jupiter; Aeacus.
Ganymede, was the son of Tros, legendary king of Troy. His outstanding beauty caused Jupiter to fall in love with the youth. Jupiter, having transformed himself into an eagle carried the youth off to Olympus where he made him the cupbearer to the gods, it is for this reason that he is shown holding a winecup aloft.
It is not known who the sculptor or bronzier of these chenets might have been. With the exception of a few models by André Charles Boulle virtually all of the gilt-bronze work of the period represented by these pieces remain anonymous.
A similar version of the present pair is in the Frick Collection and is illustrated in The Frick Collection, An Illustrated Catalogue, VI, FURNITURE AND GILT BRONZES, Edited by Joseph Focarino, New York, 1992, cat. no's. 18.6.1 and 18.6.2, pp. 243 - 244. According to the catalogue entry of the Frick chenets there are several related chenets (having similar bases with tall supports and centrally applied decorative motifs). These include: a pair at Waddesdon Manor Buckinhamshire, with rampant lions; G. de Bellaigue, The James A. de Rothschild collections at Waddesdon Manor: Furniture, Clocks and Gilt Bronzes, London 1974, II, No 182 pp. 722 - 32; and two pairs with similar bases supporting rearing horses, sold respectively: Palais Galliéra, Paris November 24, lot 41; And Sotheby Parke Bernet, Monaco february 5-6, 1978, lot 12.
The pose of the the Aegina figure is clearly related to the bronze in the Museo Nazionale, Florence, which was formerly attributed to Cellini. It is probable that the maker of this pair was familiar with this group, and was inspired by it.
A list of other chenets of this model in the Frick catalogue include: A pair in the Swedish royal collection at Drottningholm; A pair in the Rijksmuseum (the present lot); A pair sold from the collection of Henry Ford II in New York in 1978 (Sotheby Parke Bernet, 15 february - lot 68).
The present chenets are probably identical to those auctioned from the collection of Madame d'Yvon, at Galerie Georges Petit, Paris May 20 - June 4 1892, Lot 519, described as partially of the period.