Exceptional pair of French Empire candelabra attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire
Pair of French Empire period candelabra attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire
Wonderful large pair of gilt and patinated bronze Empire period candelabra, attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), with winged female figures or Victories. They each stand on a sphere and hold in their raised arms a wreath of flowers which in turn holds three finely chiseled cornucopia branches of light filled with fruit. The candelabra are each supported by a finely chiseled guilloche pedestal on a square stepped base. An identical pair is in the collection of the Mobilier National in Paris (see last photo).
One of the first things to notice is the sculpture of Victory, with a dark patina of excellent quality, which is of a relatively impressive size. It shows the exquisite quality of chiseling of this pair in details like the hair and the clothes. The figures of the winged women and the bouquets of lights are identical to those present on a pair of candelabra made around 1810 for the Court of Bavaria and signed “THOMIRE À PARIS”. Their clear composition and the well-coordinated proportions recognize the quality of the design. Naturalistically worked out fruit and flower wreaths under the light branches are a peculiarity of Thomire, which he transferred from the workshop tradition of the 18th century. Another leading Parisian bronze manufacturer Louis-Isidore Choiselat (1784-1853), bronzier of the Garde-Meuble, delivered in September 1816 a pair of candelabra identical to ours for the Château de Rambouillet, where they remained until 1831, before being transferred to the Tuileries in 1833.
The design of these candelabra found its inspiration in the projects of Charles Percier and François-Léonard Fontaine. Their work entitled “Recueil de décorations intérieures” created a style which dominated the European decorative arts during the first half of the 19th century.
This magnificent pair of early French Empire candelabra is in a very good state of preservation with their original mat and shiny mercury gilding.
Details of this pair of Empire period candelabra attributed to Thomire
Paris, circa 1810-1815.
Dimensions: 60 cm high. Size of the base: 11 x 11 cm.
Weight: 9.7 kg (for the pair).
Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843)
Pierre-Philippe Thomire was a French sculptor, who became the most prominent producer of ornamental patinated and gilt-bronze objects and furniture mounts in the First French Empire period. Although trained as a sculptor, Thomire decided to follow his father into the profession of bronze caster. He had received his training in the workshop of Pierre Gouthière, the outstanding Parisian ciseleur-doreur working in the Louis XVI style, before establishing his own shop in 1776.
In 1804 Thomire acquired the business of the marchand-mercier, Martin-Eloi Lignereux. The company employed a large workforce in a workshop at rue Boucherat and a showroom at rue Taitbout. From there Thomire retailed a large range of decorative objects inspired by antiquity including candelabra, extravagant centrepieces, clock cases and monumental Greek and Roman style urns and vases.
Pierre-Philippe Thomire was the greatest craftsman of his age to work in gilt bronze. He was patronised by Louis XVI, Napoleon and Louis XVIII as well as foreign monarchy and aristocracy. Thomire’s fame and notoriety was then propelled to even greater heights after the Revolution when in 1806 he became the first bronzier to be awarded a gold medal at the Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie. In 1809 he won another gold medal and was also appointed ciseleur de l’Empereur. In addition to Napoleon himself, Thomire was patronised by the Emperor’s family and many foreign royal courts. Because of the large number of pieces Thomire supplied to the palaces, his firm became fournisseur de leurs majestés (Furniture Suppliers to their Majesties) two years later. His work represents some of the finest examples of the Empire design.
At the height of his business, it is estimated that Thomire employed six or seven hundred workers. Thomire retired from his firm in 1823.
- Collection Mobilier National Paris Inv.Nr. GML-5881-001.
- Collection of Palace “Het Loo”, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands.
- Dupuy-Baylet (Marie-France), “L’Heure, le Feu, la Lumière. Les bronzes du Mobilier national 1800-1870”, Dijon, 2010, p. 256.
- H. Ottomeyer and P. Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, Munich, 1986, p. 331, fig. 5.2.9.
- Koller Auktionen, Zürich, 16. September 2010, where a pair of the same model appeared in auction.
See more Candelabra and Candlesticks in our gallery.