The Château of Compiègne, a royal residence since King Charles V's reign, benefited from a complete reconstruction under Louis XV by means of his first architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, then his successor under Louis XVI, Louis Le Dreux de la Châtre. A redevelopment was led by the superintendent and general manager to the Crown Garde-Meuble (royal furniture holdings) Thierry de Ville-d'Avray since 1784 for the royal apartments. In the King's small apartment, besides Rococo furniture replenishments, commissions were given to the most important joiner-carpenters and cabinetmakers, among them Jean-Baptiste II Tilliard, Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené, Jean-Baptiste Boulard, and Guillaume Benneman. The King had arranged two mezzanine cabinets on the first floor serving as workshops, which included a lathe workshop, as described in French the cabinet before that of du Tour (Cabinet précédent celui du Tour). With chairs by Boulard realized for this cabinet, a pair of wall lights marked with the no. 19 was part of the deliveries. These are our pair, the only items reserved by the Commerce Commission for this room and inventoried in 1791 as "a pair of wall lights with two branches, gilt with ground gold, with small children holding scrolls on p. 14 on above". However, they were subsequently found on the art market in 2002. As part of the same order, a similar pair marked no. 20 was placed in the lathe workshop and is still kept in situ (inv. C 88.004.1 and .2).
All have the particularity of being organized around a stem decorated with a young faun holding an acanthus foliage. The childhood theme is not new and we can compare the gilt lantern by Rémond and delivered by Daguerre in 1784 for the King's interior cabinet. It comprises four children on a gaine support and is now placed at Hôtel Matignon. The drawing design of our wall lights is not known, but it is possible to compare it to the one attributed to Jean-Louis Prieur in the collections of the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris.
Several other wall lights of this model are now known, among which a pair that was part of the collections of the fashion designer Jacques Doucet dispersed by Galerie Georges Petit in 1912 (Lair-Dubreuil and Baudoin, Paris, 8 June 1912, lot 266) illustrated in the written work by Hans Ottomeyer and Peter Pröschel Vergoldete Bronzen, and perhaps corresponding to one auctioned in Paris on 24 September 1993, lot 57. Another pair with a slight difference on the lower part of the dish was sold by Esq. Rieunier and Associates, Paris, 23 June 2004, lot 102.
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