An important pair of Empire covered vases attributed to Claude Galle (1759-1815), each standing on a grey marble base with Hermes mascarons. The vases are surmounted by a domed cover with fretwork and mounted with palmette decorations and a pine cone. The main body is cast with dancing maenads in diaphanous dresses holding flower garlands.
Claude Galle was amongst the greatest bronziers and fondeur-ciseleurs of the late Louis XVI and Empire periods. First patronized by the Garde-meuble de la Couronne, he is known to havecollaborated with, amongst others, Pierre-Philippe Thomire (d. 1843), and was responsible for the majority of bronzes d'ameublement supplied during the Empire to Château de Fontainebleau. Other Imperial commissions included the supply of numerous vases, ewers, light fittings, figural clock cases and other fine bronze furnishings for the palaces at Saint-Cloud, the Trianon, Tuileries, Compiègne, Rambouillet and a number of the Italian palaces including Monte Cavallo, Rome and Stupinigi near Turin. Galle's pieces were acquired in great number by the Russian Imperial family and aristocratic followers while they were visiting Paris, which accounts for the important numbers of his pieces remaining in the many state palace museums of St. Petersburg today.Galle was born at Villepreux near Versailles and then travelled to Paris to begin an apprenticeship under the fondeur, Pierre Foy. In 1784 Galle married Foy's daughter and on his father-in-law's death in 1788 Galle took over the workshop. He turned the workshop into one of the finest of its kind with a workforce of about 400 craftsmen. Galle promptly moved the business to Quai de la Monnaie (renamed Quai de 1'Unité) and from 1805 operated from 60 Rue Vivienne. First listed in the trade registers in 1784 he was received as a maître-fondeur in 1786 and gained the first of many commissions from the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne under Jean Hauré from 1786-88. His work can be found among the world's finest collections including those mentioned above as well as the Musée National de Château de Malmaison, the Musée Marmottan in Paris, the Museo de Relojes at Jerez de la Frontera, the Residenz Munich and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
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