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Époques: Restauration

  • Motel
    Jean-François-Henri Motel (1786-1859)

    Rare Brass Marine Chronometer in its Mahogany Case


    Paris, Restoration period, circa 1830

    Height13.6 cm Width16 cm Depth16 cm


    – Chronometer Number 41, Dépôt général de la Marine royale, Restoration period.


    A fine marine chronometer whose round enamel dial is signed “Hri Motel/Hger de la Marine” and numbered “N°41”, with Roman numeral hours and Arabic numeral minutes and seconds and three blued steel Breguet hands. The brass movement with pivoted detent escapement is mounted on a removable plate; the compensated balance with arms is fitted with four weights and timing screws. The brass drum case is housed in a mahogany box with a sliding door with glazed viewing aperture. An engraved copper plate bears the mark “N°41/M”. The indications on the brass bezel read: “N41 DEPOT Gle DE LA MARINE Rle”. The oils were checked in December 1966 by E. Brasseur/Horloger de la Marine/11, rue Général-Faidherbe/Le Havre.

    As ocean travel increased, scientists and watchmakers sought to develop timekeeping instruments to help determine the precise latitude and longitude of vessels at any given time, to protect them from the dangers of navigation. The main difficulty lay in determining the time at the reference meridian, i.e. by carrying on board a clock that was regulated to the time of that meridian. During the 17th and 18th centuries, clockmakers attempted to create clocks that remained precise during ocean voyages; these were called marine chronometers. The “Bureau des Longitudes” was created in France in 1795. Its goal was to improve the precision of marine chronometers and the finest precision clockmakers of the time, including Ferdinand Berthoud, Louis Berthoud, and, as of 1823, Jean-François-Henri Motel, were members of it. In addition to the present clock, Motel made a second, nearly identical, clock, numbered 44, which is in the British Museum in London (Inv. 1958/1006.1953).


    Jean-François-Henri Motel (1786 - 1859)

    Jean-François-Henri Motel was one of the most important French clockmakers of the early 19th century. Following his studies at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers in Chalons he came to Paris, where he was one of the most brilliant students of Louis Berthoud (1754-1813). After the death of his master he took over the workshop and quickly expanded it. He left the workshop in 1817, occasionally working with Breguet who entrusted him with the repair of chronometers of the Ministry of the Marine. In 1823, he was named “Horloger de la Marine”.

    In the same category
    Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846)

    Important Pair of Six-Light Candelabra in Portor Marble and Patinated and Gilt Bronze with Matte and Burnished Finishing

    Mars and Minerva” or “An Allegory of War”


    Attributed to Gérard-Jean Galle

    Paris, Empire/Restauration period, circa 1815

    Height90 cm Width15 cm Depth15 cm

    Made entirely of finely chased, patinated and gilt bronze with matte and burnished finishing and portor marble, the candelabra feature stems in the form of a lictor’s fasces flanked by axes that terminate in a tied ribbon that holds two crossed flags and a conical element forming the socket. Two wreaths adorned with flowers decorate the five light branches in the form of hunting horns that are adorned with oak leaves and knops; they terminate in binets that are adorned with leaf friezes that support the sockets. The lictor’s fasces are set on quadrangular terraces on which stand two warrior figures that are facing each other. One represents a helmeted Minerva who is holding a lance and a laurel branch; the other depicts Mars, the god of war, who is holding his shield and sword. The façades of the bases are decorated with applied motifs depicting trophies of weapons including shields, swords, axes and lances. On the sides, there are ribbon-tied laurel wreaths that are centered by Imperial eagles with outstretched wings that are perched on stylized thunderbolts. Square plinths adorned with heart leaf friezes support the composition.

    The present important pair of candelabra, which is attributed to Gérard-Jean Galle, is a perfect illustration of Napoleon’s desire to make the Parisian decorative arts a continuation of ancient Roman art, with its war-centered themes. Among the small number of comparable candelabra adorned with warrior figures that are today known to exist, one should mention an example that is illustrated in G. and R. Wannenes, Les bronzes ornementaux et les objets montes de Louis XIV à Napoléon III, Edition Vausor, Milan, 2004, p. 386. A second example is now in the Paris Musée des Arts décoratifs (see illustration in L’aigle et le papillon, Symboles des pouvoirs sous Napoléon, under the direction of Odile Nouvel-Kammerer, Les Arts Décoratifs, American Federation of arts, Paris, 2007, p. 177). A third example is in the Pavlovsk Palace Museum (see Pavlovsk Palace, Complete catalogue of the collections, Volume X, Metal, Bronze, Edition 2, Candelabra, girandoles, miracles, chandeliers, second half of the 18th late 19th century, Saint Petersburg, GMZ “Pavlovsk”, 2016, p. 121-122).


    One further pair of identical candelabra, attributed to Gérard-Jean Galle, but which are set on bronze bases, are on display in the Royal Palace of Stockholm (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 396, fig. 5.18.8.)

    Gérard-Jean Galle (1788 - 1846)

    Gérard-Jean Galle was the son of Claude Galle (1759-1815), one of the most important Parisian bronze casters of the late 18th century and the Empire period. After having led a brilliant military career in Napoleon’s army, Gérard-Jean took over his father’s workshop in 1815. He made exceptional bronze pieces, often basing them on original sketches done by his father. In 1819, during the Exhibition of the Products of Industry held at the Louvre Museum, he was awarded a silver medal for his bronze clocks and lighting instruments. He subsequently became the supplier to the crown and the aristocracy, including the Duke de Richelieu, the Marquis de Martel and the Viscount de la Rochefoucauld. However, the July Revolution of 1830, and the accession of the Orléans family to the throne, led his business to go into decline. He went bankrupt and died in 1846. Today, some of Galle’s pieces are in important private and public collections, among them those of the Château de la Malmaison, (the former residence of Napoleon’s wife Josephine de Beauharnais), and the Musée Marmottan in Paris.

    In the same category
    Gilbert-Honoré Chaumont (1790-1868)

    Monumental Gilt Bronze and Montcenis Crystal 36-Light Chandelier


    Attributed to Gilbert-Honoré Chaumont

    Paris, Empire period, circa 1820

    Height195 cm Diamètre120 cm

    The corbeille-form chandelier’s thirty-six lights are arranged in two tiers. Twenty-four candle arms are modelled as cornucopiae that terminate in rosette scrolls fixed directly to the outside of the finely chased and gilt bronze lower ring, the other twelve arms are placed on the upperportion of the ring. Alternating palmette and leaf motifs punctuate the composition. An intermediate ring is adorned with stylised friezes and motifs; the third and uppermost ring is surmounted by stylised palmettes. The central finely chased gilt bronze baluster stem has a pinecone finial; it is strung with elements of faceted Montcenis crystal.

    In the mid 1830’s Gilbert-Honoré Chaumont delivered a group of twelve similar sixteen-light chandeliers to the royal Garde-Meuble; they are today in the collection of the Mobilier national in Paris (see M-F. Dupuy-Baylet, L’Heure, Le Feu, La Lumière, Les bronzes du Mobilier national 1800-1870, Dijon, 2010, p. 277, catalogue n° 151).

    Gilbert-Honoré Chaumont (1790 - 1868)

    The son of chandelier maker Jean-François Chaumont, who himself was the son of a Parisian bronze caster, Gilbert-Honoré Chaumont probably took over the family workshop around 1820. He maintained close commercial ties with the Royal Furniture Depository, which allowed him to receive important commissions for royal palaces and castles. In 1838, he went into partnership with Louis-Auguste Marquis, continuing to supply bronze furnishings, mostly ceremonial lighting instruments, during the July Monarchy (see M-F. Dupuy-Baylet, L’Heure, Le Feu, La Lumière, Les bronzes du Mobilier national, Editions Faton, Dijon, 2010, p. 254 and 277). Chaumont was the creator of a type of firedog that featured winged putti riding dolphins, a pair of which may be seen in the Henri II Gallery in Fontainebleau Palace. He also created a second pair of firedogs that depict children fighting with chimeras, one example of which is in the Grand Trianon in the gardens of the Château of Versailles. In partnership with Louis-Auguste Marquis, he delivered a spectacular gilt bronze and enamel chandelier to the Garde-Meuble, which is today on display in the Reception Room of the Musée National in Pau Palace.

    In the same category
    Sèvres Royal Manufactory
    Jean-Charles-Nicolas Brachard

    Rare Pair of Hard Paste Porcelain Lidded Ice Pails by the Royal Sèvres Manufactory


    Design by Sculptor Jean-Charles-Nicolas Brachard

    Royal Sèvres Manufactory, Charles X period, dated 1825

    Marks: Blue Royal Sèvres Manufactory marks: two interlacing “Ls” with a fleur de lys and above the indication “Sèvres 25” for 1825. In addition, the indications “30 At 25 P”, “MC 23 Mai”, “22 Mi 25 P” and “MC 24 Mai 25” referring to dates of gilding and/or de painting.

    Height32 Diamètre29

    The vases, made of hard paste porcelain by the Royal Sèvres Manufactory, feature a particularly elegant neoclassical shape inspired by the krater vases of ancient Greece. The lids, with a button finial, may be taken off to reveal the interiors; one vase retains its inner liner. The necks, lower portions, and pedestals are adorned with Greek friezes and alternating stylized palmettes within reserves and C-scrolls with fleurs de lys, all against a blue ground imitating lapis-lazuli. The applied handles are in the form of scrolling reeds that are attached to the sides of vases by masks of bearded men coiffed with reeds – allegorical figures on an aquatic theme. The bellies are adorned with beautiful still lifes of fruits including peaches, currant berries, hazelnuts, strawberries, plums, grapes, walnuts, figs, chestnuts, raspberries, and pears. The still lifes appear to be suspended from vines attached behind the masks. A plain torus separates the lower portion of the vase and the round pedestal, which features convex molding. The vases are supported on square gilt bronze bases.


    Ice pails were indispensable table accessories used at all important summer meals during the first few decades of the 19th century. They were used to keep ice cream and sherbet cold. As concerns the present vases, their particularly successful design, known as “type B” in the Manufactory’s archives, was created by Jean-Charles Nicolas Brachard, a sculptor mentioned as working at the Royal or Imperial Sèvres Manufactory from 1782 to 1824. Today, several identical ice pails with various types of decoration, are in public collections in France. Among these, one example is in the Musée national du Château de Fontainebleau (Inv. F903C). A pair of vases adorned with medallions showing landscapes in perspective are in the Sèvres Musée national de Céramique (Inv. MNC25298/25299). One further ice pail with a white ground and no painted decoration is also in the Musée national de Céramique à Sèvres (Inv. MNC16191).

    Sèvres Royal Manufactory

    The Vincennes porcelain factory was created in 1740 under the patronage of Louis XV and the Marquise of Pompadour. It was created to rival with the Meissen porcelain factory, and became its principal European rival. In 1756 it was transferred to Sèvres, becoming the Royal Sèvres porcelain factory. Still active today, during the course of its existence it has had several periods of extraordinary creativity and has called on the finest French and European artisans. Kings and emperors considered it an exemplary showcase for French know-how. Most of the pieces created in the manufactory workshops were intended to be given as diplomatic gifts or to decorate the castles and royal palaces of the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Jean-Charles-Nicolas Brachard

    Was a sculptor who was active at the Royal Sèvres Manufactory from 1782 to 1824.

    In the same category
    Zacharie Raingo (active circa 1805-1830)

    Exceptional Amboyna Burl Veneer and Gilt Bronze Musical Rotunda Orrery Clock


    Paris, Restauration period, circa 1820

    Height74 Diamètre27

    The round white enamel dial indicates the Roman numeral hours, the Arabic numeral fifteen-minute intervals, and the seconds, by means of three hands. The movement is housed in a drum case; the bimetallic pendulum features a bob that is adorned by a male mask. The neoclassical case is in the form of a classical rotunda temple in gilt bronze and amboyna burl veneer, which is decorated with chasing and knurling. Four columns, standing on square bases decorated with fleur de lys friezes, are surmounted by finely fluted capitals with beadwork decoration. They are supported on a round base that is set on a plinth, which is adorned with a frieze of stylized palmettes, and rests upon a quadrangular base housing a twenty-five tooth comb and cylinder musical movement. A gilt bronze plaque signed “Raingo à Paris” bears the commands for adjusting the mechanism, as well as for winding the musical movement. Surmounting the columns is a circular platform whose entablature is decorated with flowers and mille-raie friezes; it is surmounted by the orrery. The latter, which shows the 365-day period of the Earth’s revolution around the sun, has a mechanism that may be manually disengaged for didactic purposes or for changing the date, by means of a lateral crank with a turned ivory handle. It indicates a zodiacal calendar with annual date, indicating the twelve months of the year, accompanied by their low relief applied zodiac signs, along a wide silvered metal band set in the circular platform. The gilt bronze Sun is placed in the center of the orrery; it is flanked by a silvered metal dial that indicates the age of the moon from 1 to 29 ½, as well as the moon phases. It supports the ivory and black lacquered Moon that revolves around the Earth, which features a map and is tilted. It is surmounted by a metal dial with double Roman numerals from I to XII, indicating the time in various parts of the world. The clock has a glass dome.

    This exceptional orrery clock may be considered the ultimate illustration of the technical and esthetic developments in the field of clocks with complications, the first models of which were made during the early part of the 18th century by the Englishman John Rowley for the Count of Orrery (see the exhibition catalogue Sphères, L’art des mécaniques célestes, Paris, 2002, p. 238-239). In the early 19th century, several famous French clockmakers produced examples of these exceptional pieces, including Antide Janvier, who created an example that is now in the Musée du Temps in Besançon (illustrated in M. Hayard, Antide Janvier 1751-1835, Horloger des étoiles, 1995, p. 209). A second piece is pictured in G. and A. Wannenes, Les plus belles pendules françaises, De Louis XIV à l’Empire, Editions Polistampa, Florence, 2013, p. 378-379. It should be noted that Leroy et Fils took part in the creation of a clock that is illustrated in P. Heuer and K. Maurice, European Pendulum Clocks, Decorative Instruments of Measuring Time, Munich, 1988, p. 70, fig. 122.

    Nevertheless, the most elaborate models, which were the most sought-after by European collectors due to their elegant cases and remarkable mechanisms, were those made by the clockmaker Zacharie-Joseph Raingo during the early decades of the 19th century. In 1810, Raingo registered a patent with an attached drawing for a gilt bronze example that appears to be the one commissioned by Paul Arconati, Baron of Gaesbeek. Gaesbeek intended to give it to the Sultan of Turkey, but this never happenethatd and the clock remained in the Gaesbeek family until it was acquired by the Musée du Cinquantenaire in Brussels (illustrated in A-M. Berryer and L. Dresse de Lébioles, La mesure du temps à travers les âges aux Musées royaux d’Art et d’Histoire, Bruxelles, 1974, p. 92). There are only a few clocks made by Raingo that are comparable to the present piece. Most feature rotundas with columns with mahogany or burl veneer. One is illustrated in P. Kjellberg, Encyclopédie de la pendule française du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, Paris, 1997, p. 376. A second clock, made of chased gilt bronze, is in the Royal Spanish Collection (illustrated in J. Ramon Colon de Carvajal, Catalogo de Relojes del Patrimonio nacional, Madrid, 1987, p. 144, catalogue n° 122). Three models are shown in Tardy, La pendule française, 2ème partie: Du Louis XVI à nos jours, Paris, 1975, p. 418. One further clock, nearly identical to the present one, is in the Royal British Collection (see C. Jagger, Royal Clocks, The British Monarchy & its Timekeepers 1300-1900, London, 1983, p. 168, fig. 229).

    A similar clock was described at length when it appeared in the sale of the collection of Monsieur Maneffe of Brussels: “Scientific clock. Invented and made by M. Raingo, a clockmaker from Mons. Approved by the members of the Institut and the Conservatoire, and favorably mentioned by the French Ministry of the Interior. To this clock is adjoined a sphere which, by means of its rotation, demonstrates cosmological and geographical phenomena. It takes a new and pleasant form, measuring 13 inches in diameter and 25 in height. The effects are obtained by simple means and by an that is as perfect in its genre as could be wished. It is useful for demonstrating the truth of the system of Copernicus, and the planets’ revolutions, which leave no doubt regarding natural phenomena, which are shown with the greatest precision. 1. It illustrates the annual and daily movement of the Earth around the Sun, with the perfect inclination of the ecliptic. 2. As it passes along the ecliptic, the Earth traces an ellipse, moving closer or further away from the sun, depending on the season; it indicates, as exactly as possible, the constant natural movements. 3. The various movements of the Earth illustrate the passage of time, due to the same causes as in Nature, and may be used for various observations concerning the globe. 4. The circles move around the globe in all directions, demonstrating the lengthening and shortening of the days according to the seasons, for all countries in the world. 5. Movable pointers designate the hours of sunrise and sunset each day, for all countries; they show the sun’s elevation, its altitude, and its movements. These indicators also show the four seasons during the equinoxes and solstices. 6. A mobile dial above the Earth indicates, as desired, the time in any country, as well as the nocturnal and diurnal hours. 7. The daily and annual movements of the Moon around the Earth, as well as the moon phases. 8. The ecliptic path of the moon showing its apogee, perigee, and the variety of lunar days, through gradual motion. 9. An indicator showing the times of moon rise and moon set in all the countries of the world. 10. The progression of lunar days is indicated by the rotation of the moon. 11. As it moves along the ecliptic, the sphere shows the days of each month, with their names, and the degrees and signs of the zodiac. 12. The progression of ordinary and leap years indicates the moment when the mechanism must be rewound, which occurs only every four years. The sphere may be disengaged at will from the clock for demonstration purposes, by means of a special mechanism; it may be accelerated as desired. The clock is completed by a mechanical musical movement that plays flute music on the hour and at will. This invention required seven years of work on the part of its creator, in order to obtain the absolute perfection he desired”.

    Zacharie Raingo (active circa 1805 - 1830)

    Little is known of the life of Zacharie Raingo, who was active from circa 1805 to circa 1830. Born in Mons, Belgium, he worked in Tournai in 1806, in Gand around 1810. Soon afterward he went to Paris, where he was named Horloger-Mécanicien de SAS le duc de Chartres, and in 1824 Horloger-Mécanicien de la Couronne. In just a few years, Raingo became the most famous clockmaker of the Empire and Restoration periods. One of his clocks was briefly included in the 1834 sale of the collection of the banker Jacques Laffitte; it was described as follows: “A clock with columns, in mahogany, adorned with gilt copper, mechanical movement by M. Raingo.

    In the same category
    Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1843)

    Important Gilt Bronze Antique-Style Gueridon with Matte and Burnished Finishing


    Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire

    Paris, early Restoration period, circa 1820

    Height75.3 Diamètre67.7

    The round white Carrara marble top with a molded edge rests on an entablature whose apron is adorned with a grape leaf frieze with stylized rosettes. The finely chased gilt bronze baluster foot features a capital that is adorned with a frieze of water leaves surmounted by a band with fan motifs and a base that is decorated with wide acanthus leaves alternating with stems, rosettes, and scrolling, itself surmounting a band decorated with leaves that emerge from a molded knop decorated with a waterleaf frieze. The pedestal features a generous acanthus leaf bouquet alternating with veined leaves. The three-legged base is embellished with scrolling and rosettes; the feet have roundels with stylized decoration, which cover the wheels.

    The piece of furniture known as a “gueridon” was fashionable during the reign of Louis XVI. It became extremely popular after Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise to power, and numerous models were produced, in many different materials, during the first third of the 19th century. Nevertheless, it should be stressed that this particular type of gueridon, with a marble tabletop and a chased, gilt bronze foot, counts among the most spectacular and ambitious creations of the Imperial period and the following two decades. The attribution of the present table to bronze caster Pierre-Philippe Thomire is based on the numerous stylistic similarities to works that are known to have been made by that extraordinary bronzier, and on a description found in Juliette Niclausse’s 1947 monograph on Thomire, which mentions a similar table with certain variations in its general design: “A large chased and gilt bronze gueridon. The apron is adorned with a succession of stars, the feet terminate in claws. Signed Thomire” (J. Niclausse, Thomire, fondeur ciseleur (1751-1843), Paris, 1947, p. 134). Only a few similar gueridons made entirely of chased gilt bronze are known. Among them, one example with a baluster stem is in the Royal Spanish Collection, in the Royal Palace of El Pardo in Madrid (illustrated in L. Feduchi, Colecciones Reales de Espana, El Mueble, p. 457, fig. 380). A second piece was formerly in the collection of Russian sculptor Marc Antocolsky (1840-1902); it was first sold in Paris in 1906 and was again offered on the French art market several decades later (sold Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, May 26-27, 1930, lot 203). One further comparable gueridon is on display at the Villa Masséna in Nice (illustrated in L. Mézin, La Villa Masséna du Premier Empire à la Belle Epoque, 2010, p. 50-51, catalogue n° 8).

    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.

    In the same category
    Fragonard  -  Sèvres
    Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard (1780-1850)
    Sèvres Royal Manufactory

    Rare Pair of Sèvres Bisque Porcelain Winged Lions Bearing Gilt Baskets


    After a Model by Alexandre-Evariste Fragonard

    Sèvres Royal Manufactory, Restoration period, circa 1826-1828

    One of the lions bears the incised marks J 6 26 and N° 2/Mars; one of the baskets is marked with a blue fleur-de-lis, Sèvres/28, the gilt mark MC. G (?) Mars and the incised numbers “24-4”.

    Height30 Width38.7 Depth19

    Each of the Sèvres bisque porcelain lions is depicted as advancing calmly and majestically, with its jaws open, its tail curved under its body, and a finely detailed mane. A pair of wings reminiscent of those of ancient Assyrian lions sprouts from its shoulders; each of the felines is fitted with a draped saddlecloth that is moulded with low-relief stylised motifs including palmettes and scrolling foliage and is bordered with tassels. A pierced gilt porcelain basket decorated with foliate motifs is borne on the back of each beast. Both lions stand on their original rectangular imitation marble tôle-peinte base.

    The design of this magnificent pair of “canephore” (basket-carrying) lions is based on an 1817 project by Alexandre-Evariste Fragonard. Fragonard’s original drawings featured a lion and a lioness carrying baskets, which were intended to accompany a group of basket-carrying Egyptian figures, as part of a lavish bisque and gilt porcelain surtout de table. It seems that only the lion figure was produced in the Manufactory’s atelier, under the direction of sculptor Jean-Charles-Nicolas Brachard. The first such lions appear in the Sèvres inventories in December 1818; they were exhibited at the Louvre the following year  (Fragonard’s original drawings and Brachard’s preliminary plaster figures are today in the Sèvres Museum).

    Only a very few identical examples are known; these are generally single figures whose mate has not survived. One example, made circa 1818, is in the collection of the Foreign Ministry in Paris (illustrated in M. Brunet and T. Préaud, Sèvres des origines à nos jours, Office du Livre, Fribourg, 1978, p. 291, fig. 354); two other examples appear in T. Préaud, The Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory, Alexandre Brogniart and the Triumph of Art and Industry, 1800-1847, The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, New York, 1997, p. 358, plate 143; one further such lion is in the Mobilier national in Paris (illustrated in Le XIXe siècle français, Collection Connaissance des Arts, Hachette, Paris, 1957, p. 80).

    Alexandre-Évariste Fragonard (1780 - 1850)

    The son of the famous painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard, he first trained in his father’s workshop, then became the assistant of the painter David. The latter, speaking of his student’s talent, said: “there is oil in that lamp”. The young Fragonard quickly gained a reputation as a painter and sculptor, receiving numerous public and private commissions. During the Restoration period he created many models for the Royal Sèvres Manufactory. One of the most active participants in the renewal of the French decorative arts, he was a champion of the “Troubadour style”, which was influenced by the architecture, painting and decorative arts of the Middle Ages.

    Sèvres Royal Manufactory

    The Vincennes porcelain factory was created in 1740 under the patronage of Louis XV and the Marquise of Pompadour. It was created to rival with the Meissen porcelain factory, and became its principal European rival. In 1756 it was transferred to Sèvres, becoming the Royal Sèvres porcelain factory. Still active today, during the course of its existence it has had several periods of extraordinary creativity and has called on the finest French and European artisans. Kings and emperors considered it an exemplary showcase for French know-how. Most of the pieces created in the manufactory workshops were intended to be given as diplomatic gifts or to decorate the castles and royal palaces of the 18th and 19th centuries.

    Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1757-1843)

    Exceptional Pair of Monumental Matte and Burnished Gilt Bronze and Verde Antique “Serpentine” Porphyry Candelabra


    Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire

    Candelabra: Paris, Empire period, circa 1805-1810

    Columns: Paris, Restoration period, circa 1820-1840

    Candelabra :
    Height184 Width60 Depth35
    Columns :
    Height89.5 Diamètre47


    – Paris, Galerie Seligmann

    – Purchased from the gallery by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, in 1919

    – Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1919-1994 (Inv. 19.182.1-2).

    – Sold Christie’s, New York, April 26, 1994, lot 139.


    This spectacular pair of candelabra features two magnificent running figures, one of which represents Apollo who is depicted with a serious expression, and who wears a laurel wreath, classical draperies, and sandals. The matching figure represents Diana with upswept hair, who is dressed in a tunic that is tied under her breasts and sandals with high-laced sandals. Apollo holds a shallow bowl in his left hand, while Diana brandishes a tazza in her right hand. Each figure holds aloft a torch with a quiver-form stem, from which branch fifteen candle sockets; the curved branches are adorned with stiff leaves, palmettes, scrolls and rosettes. The figures stand on plain polished plinths that are supported by cylindrical bases with molding adorned with alternating acanthus and stylized leaf friezes and capitals with stiff leaf, acanthus, and flower friezes, as well as an oval-bead frieze. The cylindrical columns are embellished with applied garlands that are suspended from beribboned roundels and scenes of chariot races featuring Apollo and Diana. The groups are supported on octagonal columns that are veneered with green marble and are adorned with friezes of double interlace motifs with flower heads and beribboned laurel leaf and seed toruses.

    The unusual design and monumental proportions of the present pair of candelabra suggest that it was created by one of the finest Parisian bronze casters of the Napoleonic period, and perhaps the best among them. At the time, only two or three Parisian bronziers possessed the skill and equipment necessary to cast and assemble such large pieces. They include André-Antoine Ravrio, Claude Galle and Pierre-Philippe Thomire. The latter was the most talented and innovative bronze caster of the early 19th century, and it is to him that we attribute the present pair of candelabra. At the 1819 Paris Exhibition, Thomire & Compagnie presented “…a large candelabrum…very elaborately decorated.” (L. Costaz, Rapport du jury central sur les produits de l’industrie française, présenté à S.E.M. le comte Decazes, Imprimerie royale, Paris, 1819, p. 213). Thomire regularly worked with the architects Percier and Fontaine, who produced the Recueil de décorations intérieures that contains the design that must have inspired the motifs representing Diana and Apollo in their chariots that decorate the bases of the present pair of candelabra (see the exhibition catalogue Charles Percier, Architecture and Design in an Age of Revolutions, Musée national du Château de Fontainebleau, 2017, p. 124, fig. 6.2).

    At present, only five other identical pairs of candelabra are known to exist. Some feature variations, often as regards the gilding or patina of the Diana and Apollo figures. One pair, which was most likely purchased in Paris circa 1810 for Frederic III of Wurttemberg (1754-1816), is today in Ludwigsburg Palace in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany (Inv. TRGT 5502-5503) (illustrated in H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spatbarock und Klassizismus, Munich, 1986, p. 330, figs. 5.2.5 and 5.2.6). A second pair, which was probably formerly in the Napoleonic Imperial collections, is now part of the Mobilier National and is on display in the salons of the Quai d’Orsay, now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (pictured in Le Quai d’Orsay, Paris, 1991, p. 107). Two pairs, with six light branches and without bases, are in the British Royal collections in Buckingham Palace (Inv. RCIN 2718). A fifth pair is in the Schwarzenberg Palace in Vienna.

    The latter pair, known as the “Schwarzenberg pair”, is the best documented. It affords much precious information about these spectacular candelabra. Count Schwarzenberg purchased the pair in Paris on January 17, 1805 from André Coquille, a dealer in furniture and curiosities. The invoice, which is preserved in the Schwarzenberg archives, indicates a purchase price of 14,000 francs, a huge sum at the time, and the name they were then known by: “les Camilles”. Approximately a decade later, in 1819, the candelabra were shown at the  Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie française. This is documented by an engraving from the Recueil d’ornements by the Parisian artist and engraver Charles-Pierre-Joseph Normand (1765-1840), now in the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art à Paris, formerly the Bibliothèque Jacques Doucet (see H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, Band I, Munich, 1986, p. 390, fig. 5.17.1).

    Concerning the provenance of the present pair of candelabra, they were long in the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York, subsequently reappeared on the New York art market in the mid-1990s when several important pieces from the museum were offered at auction. We know they were presented in the early 20th century at the Seligmann Gallery in Paris. Founded by Jacques Seligmann (1858-1923), within a few decades the gallery became the largest Parisian gallery presenting antique furniture and luxury art objects. It quickly acquired an international reputation, counting among its clientele the greatest European and American collectors including Count Moïse de Camondo, the banker Edmond de Rothschild, the industrialist Henry Clay Frick and the financier John Pierpont Morgan. Renowned for their ability to discover rare and exceptional objects, the Seligmanns purchased only unusual pieces from the most prestigious international collections. They acquired the totality of the private portion of the Hertford-Wallace collection, the other half of which is today on display in London as part of the Wallace Collection.

    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.

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