Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, "Vergoldete Bronzen", 1986, p. 283, pls. 4.14.4-5, illustrating respectively a design for a comparable figural candelabrum in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, showing another semi-nude female in a similar pose holding aloft a cornucopia-shaped candle branch as well as a gilt and patinated bronze candelabrum based on the latter design, again with ewer at her feet and as here with a tambourine hung at her hips. Peter Hughes, "The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture", 1996, vol. III, pp.1276-81, no. 251 (F148-9), illustrating and discussing a mirrored pair of gilt and patinated bronze candelabra with bacchantes as if running, holding aloft in one hand extremely similar but slightly less elaborate three-light candle branches with thyrsus shaft, the figures as here with bacchanalian attributes to include vines, grapes, a wine cup, Pan-pipes and tambourine.
A superb pair of Louis XVI gilt and patinated bronze and red porphyry three-light figural candelabra after a model attributed to Clodion, each supported by a beautiful patinated bronze bacchante with long coiled hair, wearing little except drapery entwined around her thighs, one with a tambourine at her hips and Pan-pipes and grapes at her feet, the other with a wine ewer and grapes at her feet, both in movement as if dancing, one with her head leaning to the right and the other to the left, with different facial expressions but in similar poses with their weight on their right foot and right hand at the base of a thyrsus and the left raised to an upper part, the thyrsus with pinecone tip issuing three candle branches of gilt bronze elaborated decorated with entwined fruiting vines, each branch ending in a cluster of grapes and vine leaves supporting a cylindrical fluted nozzle, each figure standing on a circular gilt bronze mounted porphyry plinth hung with foliate swags on a square porphyry base
Paris, date circa 1780-85
Overall: Height 100 cm, width 37 cm. The bases: Height 20 cm, diameter 20 cm. each.
Bacchantes or maenads were the female followers of Bacchus, and thus as here include attributes associated with the god of wine. Bacchantes often featured within Neo-Classical art, not only because of their direct association with Antiquity but also because the subject allowed artists to explore the beauty and sensuality of the female figure. As noted above the candle branches compare very closely to those adorning a pair in the Wallace Collection as well as other pairs with three-lights that were in the Hittroff Collection, St. Petersburg and the Cheremeteff Collection, Ostankino. While the figures are similar they do indeed differ, the present being more elongated, willowy and lyrical. For many years the model for those in the Wallace Collection have been attributed to Claude Michel, known as Clodion (1738-1814) but more recently have been reattributed to his pupil Joseph-Charles Marin (1759-1834). It is asserted however that the present models are after the master rather than his pupil especially due to their similarity with a later pair in Waddesdon Collection ascribed to Clodion (illustrated in Geoffrey de Bellaigue, "The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor", 1974, vol. II, pp. 688-9). Another candelabrum with Classical female support after a model by Clodion can be seen in the Cleveland Museum of Art (illustrated in Ottomeyer and Pröschel, p. 285, pl. 4.14.12).
Clodion, who delighted in modelling nymphs, satyrs and bacchantes, was born in Nancy into a family of sculptors. During his youth he worked in Paris with his uncle, Lambert-Sigisbert Adam, and subsequently Jean-Baptiste Pigalle. In 1759 he won the Prix de Rome and then spent about ten years studying in Italy. Whilst still a student at the French Academy in Rome, his prodigious talents and aptitude for small terracottas attracted an illustrious clientele, including Catherine the Great. On his return to Paris in 1771, Clodion received major commissions for public and church monuments and produced countless models for vases, bas-reliefs, clocks, and other decorative projects. As a supporter of the crown, he fled Paris during the Revolution but later sought new patrons among Napoleon's entourage but by then his style was considered outmoded. Today however his work is considered the finest expression of late 18th century elegance and taste. Examples of his oeuvre can be found among many important collections including the museums of Berlin, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Montpellier, Gallery Roumianzeff Moscow, Nantes, Orléans and the gardens of Château Versailles.