Refined pair of Empire period candlesticks by Claude Galle

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Rare pair of early Empire period candlesticks by Claude Galle (1759-1815)

Truly remarkable and rare pair of French Empire period candlesticks by Claude Galle in mercury gilded and partly patinated bronze. These French Empire candlesticks rest on a circular base decorated with palm leaves and the tapered shaft is supported by three lions’ paws. Further, the collar is adorned with three applied stars and the vase shaped bobèches have an intricate decoration of leaves. The overall quality of the design and the execution reveal the hand of the reputed master bronzier Claude Galle. Another sign of the superior quality of making is the fact that they each consist of twelve separately cast and chiseled pieces.

Several pairs of this same model have been delivered in 1804-1805 by Claude Galle to the Palace of Fontainebleau. Further, in an inventory of 1807 a pair was in the apartment of the empress’ lady-in-waiting. Also we find a pair in 1810 in the Tiber pavilion. This model may even have been created in the Directory period, as witnessed by  an inventory of Claude Galle from 1799 mentioning a pair of candlesticks with stars.

This pair of candlesticks is distinctive because of its eminent design as well as its excellent quality of execution. The pair is in an exceptional state of conservation with its original mercury gilding.

Details Of This Pair Of French Empire Candlesticks by Claude Galle

Paris, circa 1805.
Height 25 cm, diameter of the base: 12 cm.
Weight: 1.4 kg (for the pair).

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

  • Collection of the Palace of Fontainebleau.
  • Collection of the Mobilier National, Inv.nr. GML 3336.
  • Jean-Pierre Samoyault, “Pendules et bronzes d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire”, 1989, p. 177 #158.
  • Marie-France Dupuy-Baylet, “L’heure, le feu, la lumière. Les bronzes du Mobilier National 1800-1870”, p.64.

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