Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 326, pls. 5.1.6 and 5.1.7, respectively illustrating a similar candlestick of circa 1810 with three Greco-Roman female herms and a stem supported on human feet and a design from a sheet in a trade catalogue of circa 1810, now in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, for a similar candlestick with Egyptian female caryatid busts, a fluted stem and three pairs of human feet but with less ornamentation and a ball-shaped nozzle.
A superb set of four Empire gilt bronze candlesticks attributed to Claude Galle each with a vase-shaped nozzle cast with berried leaves on an acanthus cup above a drip-pan supported on three beautiful classical female caryatid heads, each wearing a foliate cast headdress above a tapering fluted stem headed and terminated by a foliate band supported on three pairs of draped human feet upon a spreading circular base cast with a stiff leaf border
Paris, date circa 1805
Height 33 cm. each.
These wonderful Empire candlesticks with classical female herms are of a type often associated with the work of the leading bronzier Claude Galle (1759-1815), who supplied variants of this model to Château de Fontainebleau in 1804 (illustrated in Jean-Pierre Samoyault, “Pendules et bronzes d’ameublement entrés sous le Premier Empire; Catalogue des Collections de Mobilier, Musée National du Château de Fontainebleau”, 1989, p. 175, no. 155). It is also probable that they were made after a design by the leading Empire designer Charles Percier (1764-1838) since a comparison can be drawn with candlesticks with Egyptian rather than classical female caryatids and fluted stems designed by Percier for Château de la Malmaison, (illustrated in “Château de la Malmaison Texte Historique et Descriptif Dessinés Spécialement pour le Famille Impériale par Percier et Fontaine”).
A number of similar candlesticks made either in gilt and patinated bronze or in silver were made during the first decade of the nineteenth century. As noted some featured Egyptian female busts while others, such as the present set, looked back to Classical Rome. By about 1810 candlesticks of this style were very fashionable among Parisian society, when their popularity was enhanced by publications for similar designs appearing in catalogues of the period which were used by the Parisian bronziers.
As one of the finest gilders and bronze makers of his day, Claude Galle enjoyed the patronage of royalty, the aristocracy and Napoleon Bonaparte. Born at Villepreux near Versailles, he began an apprenticeship in Paris under the fondeur, Pierre Foy. In 1784 Galle married Foy’s daughter; his father-in-law then died four years later and having paid off the latter’s debts, Galle took over the workshop, which he built up into one the finest of its kind. Galle promptly moved the business to Quai de la Monnaie (renamed Quai de 1’Unité) and from 1805 operated from 60 Rue Vivienne. From 1784 Galle began appearing in the trade registers; he became a maitre-fondeur in 1786 and in the same year received the first of many commissions from the Garde-Meuble to furnish the royal palaces. During the Consulate Galle was appointed an official supplier to the Garde-Meuble which involved commissions to supply bronzes to the Imperial residences at Saint-Cloud, Les Trianons, the Tuileries, Fontainebleau, Compiègne, Rambouillet as well as Monte Cavallo in Rome and Stupinigi near Turin. Today his work can be found among the world’s finest collections including the above mentioned palaces as well as the Musée National de Chateau de Malmaison, the Musée Marmottan in Paris, the Museo de Reloges at Jerez de la Frontera, the Residenz Munich and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.