Igor Schey, "The Russian Chandeliers (1760-1830), 2003, p. 194, pl. 981, illustrating a candelabrum of similar design surmounted by the head of Apollo but lacking the sunburst headdress, above four similarly shaped candle branches but without swan supports on a similarly shaped stem placed on a circular plinth cast with winged putti.
A fine pair of Empire gilt bronze six-light candelabra, one surmounted by the head of Apollo representing Day, wearing a sunburst headdress, the other surmounted by the head of his twin sister Diana representing Night, wearing a crescent moon and star banded headdress, each above six scrolling foliate wrapped cornucopia-shaped candle branches supported on either side by pairs of swans with wings outspread, the tapering rectangular stem cast with scrolling and foliate arabesques above a stepped rectangular plinth cast either side with shields amid foliate scrolls and on the front with mythological scenes, one showing Daphne turning into a laurel tree as she attempts to flee from Apollo, the other showing him holding a shepherd's crook sheltering under a tree as he is blown by the wind
Paris, date circa 1810-20
Height 77 cm, width 45 cm. each.
Made in Paris for the Russian market, the model for this fine pair of candelabra is inspired by a type made in Paris by the bronziers Claude Galle and Rabiat during the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Such works were frequently exported to Russia despite the latter's ban on importing French bronzes and in turn inspired a number of the Russian bronziers to make similar works of art. One should also note that the models for the heads of Diana and Apollo are very similar to those appearing as Hermes, each facing in the opposite direction that surmount a clock case by Claude Galle of circa 1810 housing a movement by Bailly à Paris in the Château de Haimhausen (illustrated in Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, "Vergoldete Bronzen", 1986, p. 302, pl. XXXIV).
Candelabra of the same model are known, notably an identical pair housed in Pavlovsk Palace St. Petersburg (illustrated in "Pavlovsk, Les Collections", 1993); another identical pair was sold by Sotheby's Monaco 23rd June 1985 while another pair in gilt and patinated bronze were sold by the same house, 26th June 1983.
Of superb design and individual detail the surmounting figures represent Apollo, also known as Helios the sun god, and Diana who is most commonly associated with the moon and in turn the night. They were the twin offspring of the supreme Olympian god Jupiter and Leto and were according to mythology born on the island of Delos. Two episodes from the life of Apollo feature on the plinths below. The first focuses on his pursuit of the nymph Daphne, who in her attempt to flee his advances prayed to her father the river god Peneus, whereupon branches sprouted from her hands and roots from her feet as she metamorphosed into a laurel tree - a subject that was immortalised in marble by Bernini (1622-25, Galleria Borghese).
The imagery on the other plinth is more obscure but almost certainly shows Apollo sheltering under a tree, holding a shepherd's crook, one of his attributes, as he is blown by the wind, personified as a face emerging from a cloud. Beside and below are an array of shells and crustacean, probably associated with Daphne's father the river god Peneus.