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Fine pair of gilt and patinated bronze three-light candelabra

“Victory Candelabra”


Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire

Paris, circa 1800-1805

Height81 cm

A fine pair of Empire gilt and patinated bronze three-light candelabra “à la Victoire”, the stem of each, formed as a classically-robed winged Victory whose uplifted arms support a lamp issuing from a pilaster placed upon her head and featuring three candle branches that terminate in vase-shaped candle nozzles with stylised flames. Each figure stands on a cylindrical anthemion-mounted and foliate-cast base that is supported by crouching griffons and rests upon on a shaped triangular green marble base.

These very fine and unusual candelabra relate to those made by renowned bronzier  Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), who created a similar pair today in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (illustrated in Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 329, pl. 5.2.4).

Thomire’s candelabra were inspired by designs of Napoleon’s architects and ornamentalists Charles Percier (1764-1838) and Pierre François Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853), who in turn had been inspired by Antique statues of Victory (illustrated ibid., p. 328, pl. 5.2.1 and p. 329, pl. 5.2.3 respectively).

A number of such figures were made during the early nineteenth century, produced by such artisans as Italian artist and designer Filippo Pelagio Pelagi (1775-1860) whose designs for the winged female caryatid supports for a console, circa 1833-34, are today in the Biblioteca Archiginnasio Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe, Raccolta Disegni Palagi (inv. 2155) in Bologne. They are illustrated in G. Beretti, A. Cotiino, B. Gallizia di Vergano, L. Melegati, “Gli Splendori del Bronzo, Mobili e oggetti d’arredo tra Francia e Italia 1750 1850”, 2002, p. 149, pl. 74.

Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757 - 1843)

Pierre-Philippe Thomire was the most important Parisian bronzier of the last quarter of the 18th century and the first decades of the following century. Early on in his career he worked for Pierre Gouthière, ciseleur-fondeur du roi, and toward the mid-1770’s began working with Louis Prieur. He later became one of the bronziers attached to the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres, creating the bronze mounts for most of the important creations of the day. After the Revolution, he purchased the stock of Martin-Eloi Lignereux, thus becoming the most important suppliers of furniture bronzes for châteaux and Imperial Palaces. In addition, he worked for a wealthy private clientele, both French and foreign, including several of Napoleon’s Marshals. Thomire retired in 1823.