Magnificent pair of Empire candlesticks “Retour d’Egypte” attributed to Claude Galle

Pair of Empire candlesticks “Retour d’Egypte” attributed to Claude Galle

Superior pair of Empire candlesticks “Retour d’Egypte”, attributed to Claude Galle (1759-1815). The ball-shaped candle holder rests on three Egyptian female heads each wearing a traditional Egyptian headdress. The tapering fluted stem is supported by three pairs of human feet upon a circular base. This base has refined decorations of water leafs and contrasting mat and shiny gilding.

This magnificent pair of French Empire candlesticks with Egyptian figures is attributed to Claude Galle, who supplied variants of this model to Château de Fontainebleau in 1804.  This wonderful  pair was 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 candlesticks, featuring Egyptian female busts, were made during the Empire period. In that time candlesticks of this style were truly fashionable among Parisian society, when similar designs appeared in catalogues which were used by the Parisian bronziers like Claude Galle.

This pair of French Empire candlesticks has original mat and shiny mercury gilding. They are overall in a good condition.

Details of this pair of Empire candlesticks with Egyptian figures

France, Empire period circa 1805.

Dimensions: height 30 cm, diameter of the base: 14 cm.
Weight: 1.8 kg (for the pair).


  • 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.
  • Christie’s Paris, 23 October 2003, where a pair of this model appeared in auction.

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