Rare Pair of Chased and Gilt Bronze Candlesticks
Paris, Directoire period, circa 1795
This large pair of finely chased gilt bronze candlesticks is a rare example from a particularly brief period in 18th century French decorative arts: the Directoire. It marks the aesthetic transition from the sophisticated neoclassical style of the late Louis XVIth period to the powerful and virile style of the Empire. The tall and tapering fluted stems appear to emerge from a ring of stylised flowerets. They terminate in octagonal capitals that are decorated with beading and are centred by stylised rosettes within squares. The finely fluted candleholders modelled as antique vases, which are also adorned with beading and stylised leaves, and terminate in octagonal drip pans with beaded borders. The spreading feet, with narrow fluting, rest upon a moulded octagonal base with beading or braided motifs.
While the design of this rare pair of candlesticks is inspired by the work of certain Parisian ornamentalists of the Louis XVI period such as Jean-Charles Delafosse (see G. Henriot, Le luminaire, de la Renaissance au XIXe siècle, 1933, plate 169), it also looks forward to models that were particularly popular during the Napoleonic period. Among the similar pairs of candlesticks made during the Empire, one pair was made by the bronzier Claude Galle for le Grand Trianon in 1809 (illustrated in M-F. Dupuy-Baylet, L’Heure, Le Feu, La Lumière, Les bronzes du Mobilier national 1800-1870, Dijon, 2010, p. 65); a second pair, with octagonal stems, candleholders and bases, was mentioned in an 1807 inventory in the Salle du Conseil of the Fontainebleau Palace (illustrated in J-P. Samoyault, Musée national du château de Fontainebleau, Catalogue des collections du mobilier, 1-Pendules et bronze d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire, RMN, Paris, p. 194, catalogue n° 181).