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Pair of Empire candelabra with female figures attributed to Claude Galle

Rare pair of  Empire period candelabra with female figures and swans (Claude Galle)

An exceptional quality pair of Empire period candelabra with classical female figures, attributed to Claude Galle (1759-1815). They consist of gilt and patinated candlesticks with a separate removable top part forming candelabra.

The gilt and patinated bronze candlesticks are of a royal and imposing size. Their basket-shaped candle holders rest on three classical female heads each wearing a traditional headdress and a string of beads around their neck. The tapering fluted stem of dark patinated bronze is interspersed by finely decorated gilt bronze rings. Further, the whole is supported by three pairs of human feet upon a circular base. This base has refined decorations of flower baskets, lyre instruments and contrasting mat and shiny gilding. On top of these candlesticks we see the candelabra with four lights, each with a central candle nozzle chased with foliage above three swan-shaped candle branches with basket-weave-chased drip pans.

These magnificent Empire candelabra with Classical female herms are of a type often associated with the work of the leading bronzier Claude Galle (1759-1815), who supplied variants of this model to Château de Fontainebleau in 1804. They were probably made after a design by the leading Empire designer Charles Percier (1764-1838) as we can see in a drawing which is  preserved in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. This drawing is contained in a small album that served as a catalog for a Paris bronzier.

Several similar candelabra and candlesticks were made during the first decade of the nineteenth century. Some featured Egyptian female busts while others, such as the present pair, looked back to Classical Rome. By about 1810 candlesticks of this style were very fashionable among Parisian society, when their popularity was enhanced by publications for similar designs appearing in catalogues of the period which were used by the Parisian bronziers like Claude Galle.

This pair of French Empire candelabra has been executed in an excellent quality with dark patina and mat and shiny gilding. They are in an exceptional condition.

Details of the Empire candelabra

France, Empire period circa 1805-1810.

Dimensions: 53 cm high, 29 cm wide, 29 cm deep, candlesticks 36 cm high, diameter of the base: 14.5 cm.
Weight: 5.9 kg (for the pair).

Literature

  • Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 326 #5.1.7
  • Jean-Pierre Samoyault, “Pendules et bronzes d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire”, 1989, p. 175 #155
  • Sotheby’s New York, 6 October 2011
  • Sotheby’s London, 24 February 2015

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