Spectacular Pair of Empire Candelabra with Vestals by Claude Galle
Pair of Empire candelabra with Vestals by Claude Galle (1759-1815)
An important and very rare pair of patinated and gilt-bronze early Empire period French candelabra with Vestals by Claude Galle. They represent women draped in the antique style, carrying an oil lamp on their head from which emerge three bobeches with a flame. More specifically, these women represent Vestals. In ancient Rome, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The candelabra rest on a cylindrical base with stylized friezes.
The oil lamp motif first appeared in the early 1780s with a preparatory drawing attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire (collection of the Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris). Later this motif will be used on torches present at the Saint-Cloud palace in 1805 then in the 1807 inventory: “two pairs of torches … carrying a round sheath decorated with figures surmounted by an antique lamp …”. The oil lamp motif is also present on some of Claude Galle’s works such as we can read in the description of objects that he presented for an exhibition: “objects presented: a pair of figure candelabras bearing on their heads an antique lamp with three spouts …”
The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg keeps a similar pair, with a marble base, produced by Claude Galle. Also various variations of the model exist, patinated, based on marble etc. This pair of Empire candelabra with vestals was made by Claude Galle (1759-1815). It was intended for the Russian market in early 19th century.
This pair of Empire candelabra is in a very good condition.
Dimensions: 55 cm high, 17 cm wide, 17 cm deep.
Size of the base: 11 x 11 cm.
Weight: 8.5 kg (for the pair).
Marie-France Dupuy-Baylet, “l’Heure, le feu, la lumière, les bronzes du mobilier national 1800-1870”, éd. Faton, 2010, n° 117, p.212.