France, Louis XV period
Chased and gilt bronze
This twisted baluster shape pair of candelabra rests on a circular base with a doucine, adorned with windings. The three sides of the shaft are ornamented with volutes which central parts are chiselled and decorated with flowers. From the nozzle of the torch, of rocaille style, emerge three interlacing arms simulating moving leafy branches. A spiral wreath of leaves spurts from the point where the arms interlace and rise above the shaft. The entire upper part of this pair of candelabra can be removed to form a simple torch. The well and the socket are shaped as stylised plants. Fine engraved decorations representing the arms of Brittany alternate with floral ornamentations on the base. The arms, consisting of six flecks or ermine tails in a medallion framed by volutes under a canopy, are surmounted by a ducal crown topped by a plume. The outline of the hollowed base is also adorned with an engraved decoration of traceries.
The engraved floral decoration continues on the shaft.
A pair of candelabra in a rocaille vocabulary
Prospered from the years 1725-1730, the rocaille taste found in the art of gilt bronze a field of predilection perfectly suited for the fantasy and the extravagance of the forms that characterise this moment of liberation of French art, sensible up to 1750-1760.
Still called by contemporaries “modern taste” or “picturesque genre”, the rocaille style seems to have appeared spontaneously shortly after the Regence period. Abandoning the classical tradition and a form of solemnity of the Louis XIV style, it prospered towards a more graceful lyricism, associating a taste for movement, ephemeral, bizarre, surprising, accidental effects with an aquatic vocabulary made of shells, molluscs, concretions as well as gadrooned water leaves.
Throughout their drawings, engravings or paintings, designers or ornamentalists, such as Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier, Nicolas Pineau or Jacques de Lajoüe, had a lasting influence on the creators. No precise name can be put forward concerning the creator of this pair of candelabra, but they nevertheless correspond to this spirit by the swirling movement of the shaft, the asymmetry of the branches and the teared shapes of the plant vocabulary used. The presence of the arms also reflects the prestige of their commissioner, probably the Duke of Brittany.
Daniel Alcouffe, Anne Dion-Tenenbaum, Gérard Mabille, Les bronzes d’ameublement du Louvre, Dijon, Faton, 2004.
Han Ottomeyer, Peter Pröschel, Vergoldete Bronzen, die Bronzearbeiten des Spätbarock une Klassizismus, München, Knauf Museum, 1986, p. 104-105.
Pierre Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Picard, 1999.
Francis John Bagott Watson, The Wrightsman collection, volumes I and II, Furniture, Gilt bronzes and Mounted Porcelain, Carpets, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1966, p. 330.
Good overall condition, slight signs of wear