Splendid pair of early Empire period candelabra attributed to Claude Galle

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Pair of early Empire period candelabra attributed to Claude Galle

A magnificent pair of early Empire period candelabra in gilt and patinated bronze, attributed to Claude Galle (1759-1815). They are each composed of a large and beautifully sculpted figure of a caryatid woman, elegantly draped in the antique style and supporting two lights in the shape of an oil lamp in her hands. On her head she carries a third light in the shape of a vase with two handles. Both the oil lamps and the vase are decorated with various finely chiselled patterns.

Each of the caryatids stands on a hexagonal pyramid shaped base with ornamentation of two winged female figures in diaphanous robes who stand on a sphere. One of them plays a trumpet and the other holds a palm frond in one hand, while both women carry a wreath in the other hand. They represent the goddess of Fame, also known as “La Renommée” in French. The same ornamentation also appears on several well known pairs of ewers attributed to Claude Galle, who was considered as one of the most important bronze-makers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Further, the finesse and unusual design of this pair of candelabra is another example of the decorative repertoire used by Claude Galle at the beginning of the Empire.

This rare pair of early French Empire period candelabra, with an outstanding quality of execution and wonderful sculpting and chiselling, is in an excellent state of preservation with the original mat and shiny mercury gilding.

Details of this pair of early Empire period candelabra attributed to Claude Galle

Origin: Paris, circa 1805.
Dimensions: 47 cm high, 23 cm wide and 13 cm deep.
Weight: 6,8 kg (for the pair).

Mythology of  the goddess of Fame

Fame (“La Renommée in French) is originally an allegorical Greek deity, daughter of Terra (Earth),  personifying the character of public or social recognition. She is also known as Pheme or Fama and is often represented as a winged woman with one or two trumpets of different lengths: a short one devoted to gossip and a long one for fame.  The Goddess of Fame makes heroes immortal by never letting their memory die. She is also the messenger of Zeus.

Claude Galle (1759-1815)

Claude Galle is regarded as one of the best bronziers of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods. He was born at Villepreux near Versailles. Galle was the apprentice of Pierre Foyin in Paris whose daughter he married in 1784. He became master bronze caster in 1786. After the death of his father-in-law in 1788 Galle took over his workshop. He soon turned it into one of the best bronze workshops in Paris and finally he employed around four hundred craftsmen. He moved to Quai de la Monnaie (later Quai de l’Unité), and then in 1805 to 9 Rue Vivienne.

Galle obtained many commissions of the Royal family (Garde-Meuble de la Couronne) from 1786-1788. He worked with with masters like Pierre-Philippe Thomire, and furnished the majority of the furnishing bronzes for the Château de Fontainebleau during the Empire. Also he supplied supplied with ormolu bronzework to the palaces of Saint-Cloud, The Trianons, The Tuileries, Compiègne and Rambouillet. Galle’s work is in the collection of museums like Musée National du Château de Malmaison, 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. Claude Galle died in 1815 after which his son Gérard-Jean Galle (1788-1846) continued the business.

Literature

  • Sotheby’s Paris, April 2018, where another pair of the same model appeared in auction.

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