Exquisite pair of Empire candlesticks with female busts attributed to Claude Galle

Pair of Empire candlesticks with female busts attributed to Claude Galle

A stunning pair of gilt bronze French Empire candlesticks with female busts attributed to the Parisian bronzier Claude Galle (1759-1815). The exquisitely crafted candle holders, designed in a vase shape, rest upon three classical female busts, known as Merveilleuses. Each bust is adorned with a traditional hairstyle, complemented by a floral headband and a string of pearls around the neck. The fluted shafts, embellished with several ornate annular bands, conclude in three pairs of small feet, all supported by circular bases featuring friezes of flowers on a guilloche background, bordered by a frieze of stars and gadroons. The entirety is executed in mercury gilded bronze, displaying a beautiful contrast between matte and shiny gilding.

This luxurious pair of French Empire candlesticks is attributed to Claude Galle, who supplied similar models to the Château de Fontainebleau in 1804. It is likely that this exquisite pair was created following a design by the eminent Empire designer Charles Percier (1764-1838), as evidenced by a drawing preserved in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. This drawing appears in a small album that served as a catalogue for a Parisian bronzier. The craftsmanship exemplifies the exceptional skill of Claude Galle, a celebrated bronzier of his time.

Made in gilt bronze, this pair is well-preserved, showcasing the original matte and lustrous mercury gilding.

Details of these Empire candlesticks with female busts attributed to Claude Galle

Origin: Paris circa 1810.
Dimensions: Height 30 cm, Diameter 12.5 cm.
Weight: 1.7 kg (for the pair).


  • Christie’s, New York, February 2016, where an identical pair was sold in auction.
  • Hans Ottomeyer & Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen, Die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock und Klassizismus”, München 1986, p. 326.

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