Stunning rare pair of Empire candelabra “Retour d’Egypte”

Large pair of Empire candelabra “Retour d’Egypte”

This splendid pair of chiselled and mercury-gilded bronze Empire candelabra, boasting four lights, draws inspiration from Napoleon’s army’s return from Egypt, epitomizing magnificence and grandeur. Three sets of candelabra of identical design were procured for the former Château de Neuilly by the Duke of Orléans, while an additional pair is recorded to have belonged to the Rothschild family’s collection.

Their elegantly tapered cylindrical stems feature adorned stars and palmettes. Three foliate arms of light, supported by lion masks, extend from each stem. Adorning these arms are Egyptian heads donning the Nemes, the characteristic Egyptian headdress. These heads uphold gadrooned drip trays and vase-shaped candle holders embellished with palmette motifs. The candelabra rest upon vases on a pedestal bearing a Greek key pattern, standing atop a circular base adorned with applied water leaves and classical amphorae decorations. Lastly, the candelabra are crowned by a flame that can be reversed to reveal a fourth light.

These museum quality Empire candelabra represent a remarkable example of the “Return from Egypt” theme. When General Bonaparte embarked on the Egyptian military campaign (1798-1801), he enlisted numerous scientists to accompany the army, leading to the publication of “La description de l’Egypte” in 1802. The popularity of this style, arising from the rediscovery of ancient Egyptian culture, endured only for a relatively brief period.

Our exquisite French Empire candelabra showcase superb craftsmanship, featuring a splendid mercury gilding complemented by intricately chiseled matte and glossy embellishments. They are impeccably preserved, presenting an exceptional condition.

Details of this pair of Empire candelabra

Origin: France, circa 1805.
Dimensions: 46 cm high, 22 cm wide and 22 cm deep. Size of the circular base: 15,5 cm.
Weight: 6,2 kg (for the pair).


  • Christie’s London, February 2015, where a pair of this same model appeared in auction.

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