These candelabra reflect one of the most sophisticated phases of the 'goût Chinois'. Although an attribution to a specific bronzier is not possible without documentary evidence, they were undoubtedly the creation of a marchand-mercier such as Lazare Duvaux. This hypothesis is confirmed by the fact that these same Chinoiserie figures are seen on different models of bases, often combined with Vincennes porcelain flowerheads and the figures eeven decorated with Vernis Martin (lacquered-bronze). Interestingly, whilst the male figure has exxageratedly Oriental features, the female figure has predominantly European features.
This identical pairing of Chinoiserie figures can be seen on the pair of candelabra on white marble bases in the mus/aee Nissim de Camondo (M. de Jarry, Chinoiserie, New York, 1981, p.204, fig.222); on a pair of porcelian-floweerd candelabra sold anonymously in these Rooms, 14 April 1983, lot 15; and on a pair of closely related candelabra from the George Blumenthal Collection, sold anonymously at Sotheby's New York on 28 April 1990, lot 84 ($46,200) and subsequently illustrated in Partridge, Recent Acquisitions 1991.
Traditionally, lacquered-bronze figures of this model have been associated almost exclusively with the Martin dynasty, both as a result of contemporary documentary references--such as the 1753 reference in the Inventory of the comtesse de Mailly - as well as the fact that they were granted a Royal Patent to protect the vernis technique which they had invented. The latter patent is further enhanced in 1744 by a renewed one for lacquer wares 'en relief dans le goût de Japon et de la Chine'. It has been argued, however, that there were no doubt other unknown craftsmen supplying such figures to the marchands-merciers, and Parisian almanachs of the period often list several specialists in vernis. (See C. Sargentson, Merchants and Luxury Markets: The Marchands-Merciers of Eighteenth Century Paris, London, 1996). Furthermore, Jean-Félix Watin in his Le Peintre Doreur et Vernisseur of 1772, stated that ten different recipes for lacquer were being employed in Paris at that time, as well as going on to say that by the 1740's the Martin family was suffering from widespread competition, which had inevitably resulted in the prices for lacquer wares being forced down.