Étienne-Maurice Falconet (1716-1761) was a French sculptor, best known for his statue of Peter the Great, ‘The Bronze Horseman’, located in St. Petersburg. Although he trained as a carpenter, clay models, which he made in his spare time, attracted the interest of sculptor Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, who he went on to work under. His successful career saw him appointed director of the sculpture atelier at Sèvres in 1757, where he worked until Catherine the Great invited him to Russia in 1766. On his return in 1788 he became director of the Académie des beaux-arts.
The form of semi-nude nymphs as supports for candelabra refers to a design in 1761 by the French draftsman and painter, Gabriel de Saint-Aubin, and was realised in physical form by Falconet at the Salon du Louvre in the same year. Whilst this initial design was intended to be cast by the silversmith, François-Thomas Germain, it proved very popular and was realised in a manner of different mediums. Various pairs, of slightly different form, exist in some of the greatest collections in the world, including at Pavlovsk in St. Petersburg and the Royal Lazienki Museum, Warsaw.
Each of the pair of candelabra is styled with two female nymphs covered with flower swags raising three candle sconces formed of buds and open flowers of carnations ‘tied’ at the base with drapes, and standing on oval bases with olive branch border mounts and acanthus edges, on corresponding reeded toupie feet. On Wednesday 20 March, we have the pleasure of offering this beautifully crafted circa 1820 Pair of French Gilt Bronze Figural Candelabra in the manner of Étienne-Maurice Falconet after a design by Gabriel de Saint-Aubin in our Belle Époque: Continental Decorative Arts of the 19th Century auction in Edinburgh.