Exceptional Gilt Bronze Incense Burner Vase with Matte and Burnished Finish, featuring Figures of Victory, Empire period
Call +33 1 45 61 44 55
Attributed to Claude Galle Exceptional Gilt Bronze Incense Burner Vase with Matte and Burnished Finish, featuring Figures of Victory Paris, Empire period, circa 1810 Height 70 cm; width with handles 38.5 cm; width of the base 27 cm
- Sold Paris, Hôtel George V, Maîtres Couturier-Nicolay, March 12, 1974, lot 89 bis.
The present monumental baluster vase is made entirely of finely chased matte and burnished gilt bronze. In a wide band on the vase’s belly are depicted scenes of priestesses and servants standing next to sacrificial altars, with rams and sacrificial vases. Above the band there is a gadrooned frieze, and below it motifs of swans drinking from fountains. The neck is adorned with a grapevine motif; the rim of the lid is decorated with a gadrooned frieze. The lid, which is pierced with stars and four-leaf clovers, has a pinecone finial. The handles are composed of winged figures of Victory dressed in classical robes that stand on sidepieces adorned with foliage and terminating in spheres. The pedestal is decorated with an engine-turned ring and torus. The tall triangular green marble base is elaborately adorned with finely chased bronze mounts including S-scrolls and fluted columns with volute capitals that rest upon monopodal winged lions whose bodies terminate in scrolling tails that alternate with S-scrolls surmounted by large stylized palmettes.
Only a small number of identical vases are known to exist, however their pedestals are made up of four addorsed sitting griffons. Among them, one pair is in the Royal Spanish Collection in Madrid (partially illustrated in L. Feduchi, Colecciones Reales de Espana, El Mueble, Madrid, 1965, p. 463). A second pair, formerly in the collection of Count de B…, was offered at auction in Paris by Me Ader on May 14, 1934, lot 53. A single vase, which was probably formerly in the Russian Imperial Collection, is today in the Russian Public Collections in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg (illustrated in the exhibition catalogue Dekorativnaia bronza Pera-Filippa Tomira (1751-1843), Leningrad, Hermitage Museum, 1984). One further model, which has been attributed to bronze caster Claude Galle, is in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (see H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 363, fig. 5.12.5).
Claude Galle (1759 - 1815) One of the foremost bronziers and fondeur-ciseleurs of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods, Claude Galle was born at Villepreux near Versailles. He served his apprenticeship in Paris under the fondeur Pierre Foy, and in 1784 married Foy’s daughter. In 1786 he became a maitre-fondeur. After the death of his father-in-law in 1788, Galle took over his workshop, soon turning it into one the finest, and employing approximately 400 craftsmen. Galle moved to Quai de la Monnaie (later Quai de l’Unité), and then in 1805 to 60 Rue Vivienne. The Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, under the direction of sculptor Jean Hauré from 1786-88, entrusted him with many commissions. Galle collaborated with many excellent artisans, including Pierre-Philippe Thomire, and furnished the majority of the furnishing bronzes for the Château de Fontainebleau during the Empire. He received many other Imperial commissions, among them light fittings, figural clock cases, and vases for the palaces of Saint-Cloud, the Trianons, the Tuileries, Compiègne, and Rambouillet. He supplied several Italian palaces, such as Monte Cavallo, Rome and Stupinigi near Turin. In spite of his success, and due in part to his generous and lavish lifestyle, as well as to the failure of certain of his clients (such as the Prince Joseph Bonaparte) to pay what they owed, Galle often found himself in financial difficulty. Galle’s business was continued by his son after his death by his son, Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846). Today his work may be found in the world’s most important museums and collections, those mentioned above, as well as the Musée National du Château de Malmaison, the Musée Marmottan in Paris, the Museo de Reloges at Jerez de la Frontera, the Residenz in Munich, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
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