A wonderful Louis XV single silver candlestick by Jean-François Balzac, with a hexagonal shaped socket upon a baluster shaped tapering knopped stem ornamented with reeded bands with applied cartouche medallions and with applied scallop shells on a spirally-fluted spreading circular shaped foot with reeded band and cartouches
Paris, dated 1756
Height 25 cm.
Jean-François Balzac (1711- d. circa 1766) was a prominent Parisian silversmith who created exceedingly fine pieces of domestic silver. Like his brother Edmé-Pierre Balzac (fl. 1739-81, maître 1739), who was also a silversmith of excellent repute, Jean-François worked for the French royal court. Jean-François was the son of Louis Balzac, clerk of the court of the vice baillage de Gien and of Etiennette Moyon. For most of his life, he was based at Pont au Change in the parish of St. Jacques le Boucherie, Paris. On 8th February 1747 he began an apprenticeship under François Marteau, silversmith du Roi aux galleries du Louvre. Almost two years later on 25th January 1749 Balzac was received as a maître by privilege of court service, guaranteed by his brother, Edmé-Pierre whom he succeeded. In the same year, 1749 Jean-François entered his first mark as a Paris silversmith. Then on 3rd March 1755 he became a maître of the Paris guild under the guarantee of his former master François Marteau and in the same year entered his second mark. In 1757 he acted as expert at the reception of Denys Legros. The following year he took on as apprentice Jean-Augustin Balzac, who was most probably his son. Although the exact date of his death is not known nor the date of his second marriage it is believed that he died in about 1766.
Examples of Balzac's work can be found among some of the world's finest museums, including the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris as well as the Metropolitan Museum, New York. The latter possesses a fine single candlestick dating to 1761-62, which is very similar to the present piece. It was one the many distinguished objets d'art bequeathed to the Metropolitan in 1948 by Catherine Wentworth of Santa Barbara, who while living in France assembled one of the most important and extensive private collections of French silver. Her collection included more than 400 pieces of French silver from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries including a number of pieces by Jean-François' brother, Edmé-Pierre Balzac.