Lot 1044
  • 1044

A Louis XV green-painted and parcel-gilt tôle nine-light chandelier mounted with porcelain flowers, circa 1750

150,000 - 200,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Gilding, tole, paint, porcelain
the flowers mainly Vincennes, some remounted and replaced.


Aveline, Paris, June 29, 1981

Catalogue Note

Chandeliers mounted with Vincennes porcelain flowers are exceptionally rare, and the present example is remarkable for its large scale and the richness of its decoration, which comprises numerous large blossoms of superlative quality and, more unusually, in a varied colour palette.  The present lot forms part of a small group of similar surviving chandeliers and is arguably the finest and most sophisticated of its kind.  One example in a private collection was formerly in the possession of the Comtesse Alexandre de Casteja, daughter of the celebrated collector and style icon Daisy Fellowes (sold Sotheby's Monaco, 3 May 1977, lot 8).  According to family tradition, the chandelier was delivered for a fete given by Louis XV in Strasbourg in 1770 for the Dauphine, Marie-Antoinette, and was later given to the Receiver of Finances Baron de Besenval, whose descendant Prince Jean de Broglie was the Comtesse de Casteja's father.  Unlike the present chandelier, the flowers on this example are almost exclusively white, and the foliate tôle peinte framework is only painted in green without gilding.   Lazare-Duvaux is also recorded to have delivered a porcelain-mounted chandelier to the fermier-general Bouret de Villaumont. Further related examples include one in the cabinet intérieur of the Dauphine Marie-Josephe at Versailles (ill. P. Lemonnier, The Palace of Versailles, Paris 1987, p.104), another sold Paris Galleria, Ader-Dillée, June 12, 1973, lot 78 (ill. P. Verlet, Les Bronzes Dorés Français, Paris 1987, fig.1); and probably the chandelier supplied to the Voltaire Room at Schloss Sanssouci, Potsdam, still in situ.  Like the Casteja chandelier, these examples are all mounted almost exclusively with white flowers, and the tôle frame is entirely green and in the form of naturalistic branches, without the gilt trellis and lambrequin cage.

One of the first specialties of the Vincennes factory, established on 24 July 1745, was the manufacture of porcelain flowers.  The success was immediate and less than three years later, plans were made to increase the size of the flower workshop that already employed forty-five women.  The popularity of such flowers declined after 1755 but came back into fashion after 1770.  They were often arranged in bouquets in vases from the same factory or from Meissen, and were also used to adorn clocks, wall lights, and candelabra.

Porcelain flowers were also sold individually to complement various objects.  For example, the celebrated marchand mercier Lazare-Duveaux sold 120 spare flowers to Madame de Pompadour on 5 July 1757 at a cost of 1 livre per blossom. In exceptional cases they were scented and placed in flower beds, as on the occasion in 1750 when Madame de Pompadour received Louis XV for the first time in the newly completed Château de Bellevue, a gift from the King (see G. de Bellaigue, Catalogue of Furniture, Clocks and Gilt Bronzes, Waddesdon Manor, Fribourg 1974, Vol. I, p.198).  .

Vincennes flowers were also used as diplomatic gifts, of which the most celebrated example was the ormolu-mounted vase of porcelain blossoms sent by the Dauphine Marie-Josephe de Saxe to her father King Augustus III in Dresden in 1749 (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden; ill. Verlet, p.27, fig.14, Fig.2).  This was intended to demonstrate the high technical and artistic achievements of Vincennes porcelain to the patron of Europe’s leading rival manufactory Meissen, and many of the flowers are directly comparable to those on the present chandelier.  Such meticulously finished and polychrome blooms were extremely expensive to produce and thus only available to a highly limited group of elite connoisseurs.  The presence of such flowers and the more elaborate overall design of the Keck chandelier compared to other surviving examples indicate that it must have been intended for an extremely important client, and raise the intriguing possibility of whether it might have been a diplomatic gift as well.