A very fine pair of Empire gilt bronze six-light candelabra attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, each surmounted by a detachable flaming finial upon a central upright candle branch, encircled by five scrolled acanthus-wrapped candle branches upon a spreading fluted stem centred by a mounted band of dancing classical maidens, the stem terminated by a band of stiff leaves upon a tripartite lion paw monopodia plinth upon a shaped base
Paris, dated circa 1810
Height 85 cm. each.
These wonderful candelabra compare closely with those by the celebrated Empire fondeur-ciseleur Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), of which a similar but later pair by his firm of 1837 with a fluted baluster-shaped stem are in the Grand Trianon, Versailles (illustrated Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 393, pl. 5.17.12). Not only is the monopodia tripod plinth typical of Thomire’s style but also the exquisitely cast frieze of dancing maidens that punctuate the fluted stems. For instance similar low relief classical dancers, likewise in diaphanous dress, can be seen encircling the plinth of another Thomire candelabra of circa 1810, in Ludwigsburg Castle, which has in addition a stem formed as three caryatid female figures, (illustrated ibid, p. 335, pl. 5.2.17). Thomire obviously delighted in such dancers featuring them on many other objects for instance upon a caryatid console frieze supporting his famous Cupid and Psyche clock of 1799, now in the Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg (illustrated ibid. p. 321, pl. 5e). While other bronziers and designers included similar dancing figures, for instance Antoine-André Ravrio (1759-1814) as ornamentation upon a clock base, now in the Österreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Vienna (illustrated ibid, p. 352, pl. 5.8.1), Thomire’s dancers have a very distinct style. As here, they are nearly always moving in an upright pose and though connected by entwining drapery or wreaths exist as complete figures within their own individual space. For this reason they work aesthetically as individual mounts on a Thomire tripartite plinth for a table light of circa 1815 in the Musée National du Château de Malmaison (illustrated ibid, p. 386, pl. 5.16.9).
Gaining great renown during the Empire, Thomire was patronised by Napoleon, his family as well as by foreign royal courts. To meet growing demand he needed to expand his business and thus in 1804 purchased the extensive business run by the marchand-mercier Martin-Eloi Lignereux, which allowed Thomire to operate on a much larger scale. Renaming the company Thomire-Duterme et Cie, Thomire retained the showroom at rue Taitbout and from there retailed a large range of decorative objects. Many of the pieces, made at his workshop at rue Boucherat were supplied to the Imperial household and other notable families. Thomire’s production included some of the finest gilt bronze objects of the period, from centrepieces and candelabra to clock cases and furniture. At the same time Thomire also supplied beautiful gilt bronze mounts to the leading ébénistes as well as mounts to the porcelain manufacturers.
Soon after 1815 the partnership with Duterme was dissolved and under its new style, Thomire et Cie thrived once more under the restored Bourbons. In 1823 Thomire won a gold medal for sculpture and in the same year retired though he continued to produce sculptures and regularly exhibited at the Paris Salon until 1834. His two sons-in-law continued his business up until 1852 though Thomire’s renown has continued to the present day.