Pierre Kjellberg, Objets Montés du Moyen Âge à Nos Jours", p. 92, illustrating a pair of Blanc de Chine male and female Chinese figures mounted as a nineteenth century three branch candelabra. And p. 100, illustrating a comparable pair of gilt and polychrome painted single Chinese grotesque porcelain figurines seated upon a nineteenth century Louis XV style rocaille base with single foliate wrapped candle holder.
A fine pair of K'ang Hsi period famille-verte porcelain gilt bronze mounted three-light candelabra attributed to Escalier de Cristal, each with a pair of polychrome painted and biscuit porcelain Chinamen wearing open painted robes and gilded hats seated upon a hexagonal porcelain plinth on a hexagonal gilt bronze base issuing three scrolled foliate candle branches with vase-shaped sockets, the whole supported on six turned toupie feet
The Porcelain: Chinese, Qing dynasty, K'ang Hsi period (1662-1722)
The gilt mounts: Paris, date circa 1860-80
Height 23 cm, width 21.5 cm. each.
From the eighteenth century onward a number of imported Chinese porcelain figurines were mounted in France as candelabra or as ornaments such as clock cases and table decorations; some also incorporated porcelain additions supplied by manufacturers such as Sèvres. During the 1700's, the marchands-merciers assumed the major role for such adaptations, which they supplied to the royal courts and higher strata of society. Because of the restrictive guilds regulations (which prohibited members to diversify from the craft for which they were trained), the marchands were in a commanding position to commission individual manufacturers to supply parts such as bronze mounts or porcelain, which were then assembled to their own specification. However, with the abolition of the guilds in 1791 and subsequent increased diversification within manufacturers, luxury firms such as Escalier de Cristal, as well as a number of the tapestry makers assumed the former role of the marchands-merciers.
The present gilt mounts and re-assembly of the Chinese porcelain figures is typical of the high quality of Escalier de Cristal's productions, for which the firm became famed. By the mid nineteenth century the firm was recognized as one of the most celebrated Parisian maisons to specialise in the manufacture and retail of gilt bronze mounted porcelain, select objets d'art and furniture. The business was founded in 1802 and run by Madame Desarnaud née Marie-Jeanne-Rosalie Charpentier (1775-1842) following the death of her husband, Barthélemy Desarnaud. Her luxury store was filled with the choicest artefacts from vases, lamps, clocks and furniture, which she supplied to many of the leading families in Europe. By 1919 Mme Desarnaud bore the title of Fournisseur breveté du Roi and to the duc de Berry and the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne.
The firm dealt in and carried an extensive stock of eighteenth century Oriental and European porcelain, which they generally mounted in either the Louis XV or XVI style. Escalier de Cristal was also the first manufacturer to mount crystal taillé objects, which were supplied by Aim-Gabriel d'Artigues (d. 1848), who in 1802 had bought the Vonche glass factory in the Ardennes, (which later became the Baccarat crystal works). Mme Desarnaud's store and workshop was situated in prime position at the Palais-Royal, where other exclusive retailers selling objets de virtue, silver, jewellery and clocks, such as Le Roy, could also be found. The firm attracted many of the fashionable elite who not only flocked to the luxury store but also viewed Escalier de Cristal's work at the various national and international exhibitions. Toward the end of Louis-Philippe's reign the firm began to manufacture its own specialised pieces of inlaid furniture. These were of superlative quality, to the extent that some of the firm's Louis XV and XVI reproduction furniture has subsequently been mistaken for the original; only later when restorers have examined such pieces in detail has the Escalier de Cristal stamp been discovered. In 1847 five years after Mme Desarnaud's death, Escalier de Cristal was taken over by Monsieur Lahoche and Monsieur Boin. From 1852 it was run solely by Lahoche, from 1857 by Lahoche and Pannier and then from 1890 up until 1923 it was in the hands of Pannier Frères.