A pair of five-light candelabra with patinated figures in the shape of the goddess Victoria. In her hands she carries the five-armed candleholder, which emerges from a vase. The arms are decorated with curling flowers and palmette leaves. Victoria herself stands on an orb with erect palmette leaves. The whole is supported by a cylindrical fire-gilt bronze base with various appliqués in the form of Victoria with garlands as well as laurel wreaths. The cylinders stand upon a double gilt bronze plinth.
The design of these candlesticks with winged figures was likely based on a drawing in an album containing designs by Percier and Fontaine, now kept in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. This drawing shows a very similar à la victoire candlestick, with an inscription indicating that the pieces were intended for the boudoir of Empress Josephine in Saint-Cloud, thus establishing a strong connection between Percier and Fontaine and the design of these candelabra from Saint-Cloud.
The à la victoire candelabrum model is most strongly associated with the works of Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), one of the most prominent bronze casters and chiselers in the “Empire” period. Although he was trained as a sculptor, he chose to practice his father’s profession and became a bronze caster. In that capacity, he became one of the most successful producers of bronze objects in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Thomire trained under Gouthière before starting his own enterprise, producing bronze ornaments for furniture. Later, he worked as an assistant to Duplessis, director of the Manufacture de Sèvres. After Duplessis’ death in 1783, Thomire returned to bronze casting and began producing gilt bronzework for porcelain objects. In 1809, he was appointed Ciseleur d’Empereur.
Private collection, the Netherlands
M.L. Myers, French Architectural and Ornament Drawings of the Eighteenth Century, New York, 1992, cat. 98, pp. 157-8
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