A very fine pair of Directoire gilt and patinated bronze candelabra ‘Au Jeune Nègre’, each with a patinated bronze figure of a young African girl with glass eyes wearing a beaded necklace and a tassel-hung loincloth, her outstretched arms holding in both hands a vase-shaped candleholder with bronze florale finials and winged dragons with a candle stem terminated by vase-shaped candleholders on its head, each figure standing on a circular patinated bronze base, wich stands on a rectangular gilded base.
Paris, date circa 1800
Height 58 cm. each.
Literature: Elke Niehüser, “Die Französische Bronzeuhr”, 1997, p. 161, pl. 262, showing an almost identical pair of candelabra and a corresponding pendant clock in the Musée François Duesberg at Mons.
An identical pair of candelabra with a complete gilt brass plinth and base was formerly in the Fermor-Hesketh Collection, 1988. Jean-Simon Deverberie (1764-1824) was the most important artist of his time to create a series of bronzes celebrating the theme of le bon sauvage. This ideal was itself encouraged by views of equality proposed by Rousseau and others and culminated in the abolition of slavery by the Convention in 1793. Interest in le bon sauvage continued throughout the Empire period despite Napoleon’s reintroduction in 1802 of slavery and the slave trade, as it existed in 1789. Writers and artists alike were inspired to address the notion of le bon sauvage, as expressed in Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ (1719), Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (1724), as well ‘Paul et Virginie’ (1787) by B. de Saint-Pierre and ‘Atala’ (1801) by Vicomte de Chateaubriand. In turn the latter two works were the subject for a number of clock cases
Deverberie appears to be the first bronzier to create clock cases and candelabra on such a theme, the first being his clock known as La Négress, housing a movement by Furet and Godon, which was presented to Queen Marie-Antoinette in 1784. The present pair of candelabra date slightly later from 1799, corresponding in date with a Pendule ‘Au Sauvage’ and candelabra set by Deverberie known as L’Amèrique, of which there is an example at Musée Duesberg, Mons. The latter features a female figure beside a palm seated upon an alligator above the clock drum, while each candelabrum is composed of a young blackamoor supporting candle branches upon his head. Other celebrated Deverberie models on the same theme include his Pendule L’Afrique also dating from 1799, featuring a half-draped huntress seated beside a panther.
Deverberie’s drawings and art works, now in the Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale Paris include designs for the present pair as well as for other examples noted above. Deverberie enjoyed great success as a bronze manufacturer as well as a marchand-mercier. By 1800 he was established at rue Barbette; four years later at Boulevard du Temple and from 1812 until 1824 his business Deverberie & Compagnie was based at rue des Fosse.
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