From a French private collection.
Geoffrey de Bellaigue, “The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor”, 1974, vol. II, pp. 790-791, no 216, illustrating and describing a pair of comparable but probably nineteenth century wall-lights in the Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor, featuring a boy and girl in similar contrapposto pose with each figure issuing from a twisted stem and holding serpentine candle branches of different lengths in either hand.
Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel, “Vergoldete Bronzen”, 1986, p. 66, pl. 1.9.20, illustrating a comparable wall-light of circa 1725 in Schloss Fasanerie, Germany and on the same page, pl. 1.9.21, illustrating a detail from “Livre de Différentes Décorations d’Appartements par G. M Oppenord Architecte”, 1748, pl. CVIII, showing an engraving by Gabriel Huquier of one of Oppenord’s designs for a very similar wall-light.
A superb pair of Règence gilt bronze two-light wall-lights, almost certainly after a design by Gilles-Marie Oppenord, each centred by the bust of a beautiful female herm with flowers in her hair and each in contrapposto pose issuing from an asymmetrical twisted stem of acanthus leaves and beads and terminating in a foliate pendant, each figure flanked by a serpentine branch chased with overlapping foliage, with one branch longer than the other and terminating in one instance with a foliate and in the other a fluted circular drip-pan and again with vase-shaped candle nozzles of slightly different design
Paris, date circa 1730
Height 50 cm. each.
The inspiration for these wall-lights was based on a drawing from circa 1730 by Gilles-Marie Oppenord (also known as Oppenoordt or Oppenort; 1672 or 1685-1742) which was subsequently engraved by Gabriel Huquier and published in 1748. Oppenord’s pen and ink design shows a female herm, with all her upper body, rather than just her bust as here, issuing out of very similar sinuous foliage and terminating in a similar foliate pendant. Furthermore, as here the scrolled candle branches are of different lengths while the nozzles are again of slightly different design to one another.
A prolific and imaginative draftsman, Oppenord produced creative designs for everything from wall-lights, candlesticks, clocks and chandeliers to large scale architectural projects, complete interiors and church monuments. Though his designs were initially influenced by the Baroque, he then began working in a lightness of touch, introducing sinuous asymmetrical lines whose creative designs played a significant role in the development of the early Rococo style.
He was the son of the ébéniste Alexandre-Jean Oppenord and grew up in the Palais du Louvre, where his father had been given an apartment by the king. A pupil of Jules Hardouin Mansart, he was granted an income and went to work in Rome for eight years, where he was influenced by Bernini and Borromini. But after his return to France he began to adopt an early Rococo style and began designing domestic interiors. His main patron was the Régent, duc d’Orléans who appointed him directeur des Manufactures Royales. However, his main activity was that of an interior designer and as such he oversaw the design of the interior and all the furnishings for the duc’s residence at the Palais-Royal. Subsequently, under the direction of Robert de Cotte he was involved in the interior design for the decor at the Elector’s Palace in Cologne and in addition worked on the interior decoration at château de la Grange at Yerres.
Whilst a leading figure in his day, Oppenord’s influence became far greater after his death when many of his designs were engraved by Huquier and subsequently published as a series.