Ernest Dumonthier, “Les Bronzes du Mobilier National – Bronzes d’Éclairage et de Chauffage”, 1910, pl. 36, no. 10, illustrating a comparable Empire wall-light with a lion head backplate but without the snake scrolled candle branches. Jean-Pierre Samoyault, “Pendules et Bronzes d’Ameublement Entrés Sous le Premier Empire”, 1989, p. 145, illustrating one of three wall-lights of comparable form but with eagle heads, which were delivered by Thomire-Duterme et Cie in 1810 for the premier salon du petit appartement de l’Emperor at Château de Fontainebleau; and p. 149 showing one of three pairs of similar wall-lights with anthemion and scrolled branches issuing from a circlet but with no lion mask backplate signed Rabiat on the backplate, delivered by Thomire-Duterme et Cie 1810 for the third salon de l’appartement de Prince no I at Fontainebleau. Charles Plante at Shepherd & Derom Galleries, New York, “Designs for Gilt Bronze Objects from the French Restoration 1814-1830”, 2002, p. 61, no. 15, illustrating a design for a comparable gilt bronze five-light wall-light with a lion masked backplate but with additional anthemion and differing candle branches. Giacomo et Rozenn Wannenes, “Les Bronzes Ornementaux et Les Objets Montes de Louis XIV à Napoléon III”, 2004, p.390, illustrating a pair of comparable Empire three-light wall-lights with the nozzles being supported on the same coiled snake, which is held in an eagle’s rather than lion’s mouth.
A fine pair of Empire gilt and patinated bronze three-light wall-lights attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, each with a patinated bronze lion head mask within the circular backplate, the lion holding in its mouth a coiled snake that forms a central ring and two scrolled side branches, each supporting a facetted vase-shaped candle nozzle
Paris, date circa 1810-20
Width 22 cm, diameter of the backplate 14 cm. each.
These superb wall-lights or appliques combine elements from two sets delivered by Thomire-Duterme for the Emperor Napoleon’s Palace at Fontainebleau in 1810. Other lion-mask wall-lights were supplied by Claude Galle (1759-1815) to the Grand-Trianon at Versailles in 1810, as documented in Denise Ledoux-Lebard “Le Grand Trianon: Meuble et Objets d’Art”, 1975, p. 61.
Patronised by Napoleon, his family as well as by foreign royal courts, the esteemed fondeur-ciseleur Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843) needed to expand his business in order meet growing demand. Thus in 1804 he purchased from the marchand-mercier Martin-Eloi Lignereux his extensive business, thus allowing him 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.