D. Ledoux-Lebard, Les Ebénistes Parisiens (1795 - 1870), Paris, 1965, p. 37 and pl. XI.
D. Ledoux-Lebard, Le Mobilier Français du XIXe Siècle, Paris, 1984, pp. 64 - 65.
A. Dion-Tennenbaum et al., L'Age d'Or des Arts Décoratifs 1814 - 1848, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 1991, p. 151.
H. Roberts, For the King's Pleasure, London, 2003, pp. 211 - 222.
These superb torchères, richly mounted in gilt-bronze and Paris porcelain, reflect the renewed interest in the 1820's following the restoration of the monarchy in the lavish styles of the ancien régime. Their overall form, with tapering stems and sculptural ram's masks and lion's paw feet, reflect the grandiloquent style of André-Charles Boulle, while the precious use of porcelain plaques recall the luxurious creations of marchands-merciers such as Simon-Philippe Poirier and Dominique Daguerre in the 1770's and 1780's.
This model of torchère can be securely attributed to the innovative cabinet-maker Alexandre-Louis Bellangé (1799 - 1863), possibly working in collaboration with his father Louis François Bellangé (1759 - 1827) and the marchand mercier Maëlrondt. That Alexandre-Louis continued working in the style established by his father is demonstrated by a series of secrétaires with distinctive use of columnar supports, executed by both father and son. A pair of secrétaires of this model, later modified with mirrors inset to the fall-fronts, with Louis-François's stamp of 'Bellangé 41 rue Saint-Martin', are in the British Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, acquired by George IV around 1825, while a porcelain-mounted secrétaire of the same model, but signed with Alexandre-Louis's stamp of 'Bellangé No. 33 Rue des Marais St. Martin a Paris', was sold Christie's, London, 31 March 1977, lot 44.
That Alexandre-Louis was also actively collaborating with the marchand-mercier Maëlrondt on porcelain-mounted furniture is indicated by the following mention in the 'Catalogue d'Objets rares et curieux composant le fonds de commerce de feu M. Maëlrondt' in 1824 of 'des meubles orécieux...établis avec autant de soin que d'habileté par M. Alexandre Bélanger (sic) d'aprés les idées de M. Maëlrondt'. Among these was a porcelain-mounted secrétaire close in design to the examples discussed above.
OTHER EXAMPLES BY BELLANGE IN ENGLISH COLLECTIONS
Bellangé and Maëlrondt evidently specialized in a foreign clientele, particularly the celebrated group of English collectors in the first decades of the 19th Century such as George IV, the Earl of Pembroke and George Watson-Taylor. Maëlrondt's bills frequently refer to a 'commissionnaire pour l'étranger' or to 'marchandises vendues pour l'Angleterre' (see A. Dion-Tennenbaum, op. cit., p. 151).
George IV acquired no fewer than four pairs of torchères of this model. Two pairs were acquired in 1820 - 1821 and given by the King to Lady Conyngham (later sold Christie's, London, 6 May 1908, lots 352 - 353, to Wills). The other two pairs, which remain at Windsor Castle, were purchased in Paris by the King's artistic adviser Sir Charles Long from the dealer A. Delahante in 1825. The latter two pair were originally installed in the Small Blue Velvet Room at Carlton House. They were subsequently sent to the King's cabinet-makers Morel and Seddon in 1828 who created giltwood plinths for them, now lost (interestingly, the pair offered here show signs of having had an additional plinth below the feet). They were then installed in Lady Conyngham's private apartments at Windsor, one pair in her Boudoir (Room 213), and one pair in her Drawing Room (Room 214). Both rooms were lavishly furnished with superb 18th Century French furniture, including a porcelain-mounted console desserte by Weisweiler, candelabra by Rémond and a porcelain-mounted yew-wood secrétaire. The torchères appear prominently in designs for the furnishing of the Drawing Room supplied to the King by Morel and Seddon. They remain at Windsor Castle and are now in the White Drawing Room, Room 197 (see H. Roberts, For the King's Pleasure, London, 2001, p. 214, cat. 519, p. 218, fig. 258, and p. 220, figs. 264 - 265).
The model obviously enjoyed great sucess with other English collectors as further examples are recorded in two of the most celebrated sales of the period, that of William Beckford at Fonthill in 1823 (sold by Phillips, 9 September and following days until the end of October, lot 979, stamped 'Bellange Rues les Marais', and subsequently sold at Christie's, London, 27 April 1900, lot 79, for £210 to Partridge, sold as the property of Sir Henry Miles, Bart., removed from Leigh Court, Bristol, another great collection formed in the Regency period), and that of George Watson-Taylor from his country seat, Erlestoke, 9 - 29 July 1832, lot 13 in the South Drawing Room.
Interestingly, a number of other pieces by Bellangé in the British Royal Collection were acquired by George IV from George Watson-Taylor's collection (including two lavishly mounted consoles, now in the Blue Drawing Room, Buckingham Palace, illustrated in Roberts op. cit., pp. 90 - 91, figs. 78 - 80), indicating that Watson-Taylor, who formed one of the most significant collections of furniture and paintings of the time, must have been one of Bellangé's most important clients.
Bellangé also produced variants of this model of torchère. A pair, in blue-stained horn but of the same overall design, was originally acquired by Watson-Taylor, and subsequently purchased by George IV in 1825. They were then sold from Buckingham Palace in 1836 when acquired by the 12th Earl of Pembroke, at whose sale in 1851 they were acquired by Lord Normanton for Somerley, where they remain, demonstrating the enduring appeal that these innovative pieces by Bellangé had for fashionable English collectors (see Roberts op. cit., cat. 415, p. 184 and fig. 219).
More recently, other porcelain-mounted examples of the model were sold Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 31 October 1959, lot 273, Sotheby's, Monaco, 5 - 6 February, 1978, lot 60, and from the John Dorrance collection, Sotheby's, New York, 20 - 21 October 1989, lot 823, while a further pair was recorded with the Antique Porcelain Company in New York in 1962.