This striking chandelier recalls the 'antique' fashion introduced in the late 18th century, and evokes Apollo's triumph. Festive bacchic masks are plumed with feathers, recalling Apollo's temple in Palmyra, and are joined by a swagged ribbon flowered with golden laurels recalling the deity's poetic triumphs on Mount Parnassus.
This form of Grecian bacchic mask was adopted by progressive designers drawn to antique forms such as Thomas Hope (d. 1842), who incorporated them in the decoration of his London house and illustrated related masks in his Household Furniture and Interior Decoration, 1807. The 'antique' style soon also became fashionable in Russia, and similar masks feature on a settee attibuted to Karl (Carlo di Giovanni) Rossi (d. 1849) for count Baryatinsky's residence at Mariino (illustrated in A. Gaydamak, Russian Empire, Moscow, 2000, p. 53. Rossi spent two years in France and Italy between 1802 and 1804, and was doubtless influenced by fashionable designers à l'antique such as Percier and Fontaine. A related chandelier ornamented with Grecian masks was sold from the collection of the Grand Dukes and Margraves of Baden, Sotheby's house sale, 6 October 1995, lot 1063 (DM 84,000).