Exceptional Pair of Monumental Gilt Bronze Nine Light Candelabra with “Ionic Capitals” with Matte and Burnished Finishing
Paris, late Empire period, circa 1815
Made of finely chased gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing, the present candelabra feature a stem in the form of a column with molding, around which are twined leafy branches and groups of four cords. The columns stand on bases decorated with toruses that rest on square entablatures and terminate in Ionic capitals adorned with egg-and-dart friezes with scrolls that feature matted reserves centered by rosettes. The light branches issue from spheres with central bands to which are attached the spiral-decorated branches whose stems are gadrooned and whose flame-form nozzles are fitted with drip pans. A star with rays surmounts the candelabra. They stand on tall quadrangular bases with applied motifs depicting ribbon-tied imperial wreaths, which in turn rest on square plinths whose molding is adorned with stylized leaves and stems.
The remarkable design of the present pair of important monumental candelabra stands out due to the simplicity of its general design, featuring a column terminating in a sphere.
A similar design may be found in several models of candelabra of the same period; these feature variations. One pair, whose sphere is surmounted by the figure of Fame, is illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Munich, 1986, Band I, p. 391, fig. 5.17.7. A second pair, which is comparable in style but dates from a slightly later period, was delivered by Jean-François Denière to the royal Furniture Depository (Garde Meuble de la couronne) in 1821; today it is in the Mobilier national of the French Embassy in Washington and is stylistically comparable to the present pair of candelabra. This forms the basis of our attribution to the workshop of Denière, who was in partnership with François-Thomas Matelin during the Empire period (see M-F. Dupuy-Baylet, De bronze et de cristal, objets d’ameublement XVIIIe-XIXe siècles du Mobilier national, Dijon, 2020, p. 348). A pair of identical candelabra was acquired in July 1814 by King George IV; it is today in the Royal British Collection in Windsor Castle (Inv. RC35166).
Denière et Matelin (1797 - 1820)
The partnership between Denière and Matelin was created in the final years of the 18th century by bronziers François-Thomas Matelin and Jean-François Denière. Very successful, within just a few years the partners counted among the most important European suppliers of bronzes for furnishings, including the royal Garde-meuble of Milan. Denière and Matelin furnished bronzes and clocks for many important private clients, often via their fellow bronziers. The partnership came to an end in April 1820, with the two men continuing their careers separately.