A very fine pair of gilt and patinated bronze and marble three-light candelabra attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire after a design by Pierre-Louis-Arnulphe Duguers de Montrosier, each formed as a winged female figure in diaphanous dress in contraposto poses and blowing a stylised gilt looped trumpet-shaped candle branch terminated by a splayed nozzle with simulated leaves below mounted by an inverted mask head and holding in her other hand a pair of conformingly shaped candle branches, each figure standing on one foot on a sphere upon an elongated three-sided vert de mer marble plinth mounted with winged females within a cartouche, the plinth on lion paw feet on a triangular base
Paris, date circa 1805
Height 77 cm. each.
The design of these rare candelabra relate to those by Pierre-Louis-Arnulphe Duguers de Montrosier (1758-1806), in particular his figure of Fame (Renommée) in gilt and patinated wood to imitate bronze which was reproduced in his “Recueil de dessins de meuble, pendules et candélabres composes....à l’occasion de l’Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie Française”, 1806, pl. V, (Bibliothèque Marmottan) and just over two centuries later was sold by this gallery (reproduced in “Richard Redding Antiques”, 2007, pp. 12-13). As here Duguers de Montrosier’s figure of Fame (who is often shown in art with a trumpet) is conceived as in flight as she turns her head to one side to sound her trumpet. The sheet from his ‘Recueil’ shows Fame as she would have appeared in 1806 at the Exposition des Produits de l’Industrie Française, drawing back a curtain to reveal a pair of Roman soldiers flanking a marble console upon which is a military trophy featuring the same figure of Fame on an oval plaque. Born at Landau in the French Palatinate, Duguers de Montrosier was, like his father, expected to achieve a glittering military career. At sixteen he was made a sub-lieutenant but in 1779 he left the army. During the Revolution he was installed at Neuilly-sur-Seine; then in 1799 he and his wife Anne-Elisabeth née Lair, daughter of one of the king’s maréchals de camp, borrowed 25,000 francs from Henrion. This was probably to finance his new venture as an ébéniste since soon after this he went into association with Hutin a marchand-ébéniste of 2 boulevard des Italiens and began making extraordinary pieces both in conception and in execution. However his new career was cut short by his early death in 1806.
His business was continued by his widow who immediately tried to free herself from repaying a government loan of 100,000 francs. Therefore she saw through the completion of many pieces designed by her husband, illustrated in his ‘Recueil de Dessins’ and tried without success to sell them to the Napoleon who found them too complicated for his taste. The only way she was able to evade the repayment was to leave the entire collection to the Garde-Meuble. The Emperor eventually accepted the following pieces: A monument clock composed as a console crowned with a marble group of figures; a large mirror featuring Psyche dominated by a bow; a gilt bronze mounted walnut secrétaire containing a clock and organ; a pair of bronze twelve-light candelabra supported on girandoles; the Frederic the Great clock as well as other unusual clocks, a variety of consoles, a table and other ornate candelabra.
The quality of the bronzes as well as the use of vert de mer marble is typical of the work of the celebrated fondeur-ciseleur Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), whose own fame during the reign of Louis XVI was eclipsed under Napoleon’s rule when the Emperor, his family as well as by foreign royal courts commissioned an array of the finest gilt bronze objects of the period, from candelabra and centrepieces to clock cases and mounts for furniture and porcelain.