Lot 8
  • 8


120,000 - 180,000 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Haut. 34,5 cm, diam. 16,5 cm ; height 14in., diameter 6½in.
each breté nozzle above a tapered stem with four addorsed lion heads above drapery swags, ending in eight adjoining lion paw feet on a circular gadrooned base; the signature on one candlestick on the external lower edge of the base; marked R.1, R.2, R.3 and R.4 on the inside edge of the drip pans and inside the lower edge of the feet


The inventory after death of Louis Phélypeaux de la Vrillière, Comte de Saint-Florentin, in his hôtel Rue Saint-Florentin, 7 March 1777, n.613 indicates four similar candlesticks with breté nozzles. These candlesticks are then in the collection of the Marquise de Langeac, in her hôtel Avenue des Champs-Elysées, then in her inventory after death, 27 October 1777, and her sale 2 April 1778, where they are bought by the dealer Légère.They are sold in the sale of Madam Légère, 15 December 1784, lots 215 and 216.


- Le Cabinet de l'Amateur, Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, February-April 1956, n°232


- Saint-Sère, « Le Cabinet de l'amateur et la mode », in Plaisir de France, n°210, April 1956, p. 45 (ill.)
Le Cabinet de l'Amateur, cat. exp. Orangerie des Tuileries, Paris, 1956, n°232, p. 70

- S. Faniel (dir.), Le XVIIIe siècle français, Paris, 1956, p. 130, ill. A
- S. Eriksen, Early neo-classicism in France, London, 1974
- N. Goodison, Matthew Boulton : Ormolu, London, 2002, pp. 187-189
- P. Hughes, The Wallace Collection: Catalogue of the Furniture, vol. 3, London, 1996, pp. 1545-1546, fig. 6
- L. Roger-Miles, Exposition d'art français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1916, p. 79-80, n°70
- P. Verlet, Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1987, p. 198, ill. 227
- C. Vigon and C. Baulez, Pierre Gouthière, ciseleur-doreur du roi, New York, 2016, pp. 216-217, n°20

Catalogue Note

This rare set of four candlesticks illustrates the powerful "Greek Revival" style, typical of the early Neoclassical Revival between 1760-1770. It expresses a reaction to the Rococo style which was considered by some as excessive and this Neoclassical Revival was disseminated by ornamentalists like Jean-François de Neufforge and Jean-Charles Delafosse. The rigorous architectural design included a new symmetry. Decorative motifs from Classical Italy, Greek fretwork friezes, Vitruvain scrolls, interlacing scrolls and gadrooning once again make an appearance. The bronze work typical of this period boasts very enhanced alternations between the matte and brilliant finishing, further accentuated by geometric motifs and high reliefs. The matte gilding invented by Pierre Gouthière began to be used while the "natural" ornaments such as lion heads and lion paws, foliage and garlands were chiseled extremely thinly and deep to render them in a dynamic way. This innovative Neoclassical vision may have been partly inspired by his temporary collaboration with François-Thomas Germain. Gouthière worked for the famous goldsmith in the early 1760s and became his creditor for gilding work during Germain’s bankruptcy in 1765 (op. cit. C. Baulez, p. 29). We can note several analogies between their productions. The base of the stunning Germain kettle, made in 1762-1763 and housed in the National Museum of Ancient Art in Lisbon (fig. 1), consists of a tapered pedestal surmounted by a ram's head, terminating in two hoofed feet. The same arrangement is found on the four tapered candlesticks, each with addorsed lion masks and drapery, on eight adjoining lion paw feet.

Pierre Gouthière was granted the certificate of Gilder Ordinaire for Menus-Plaisirs (event planning) in 1767, allowing these signed candlesticks to be dated from this date onwards.

Several models of this candlestick are currently listed with some variations to the decorative elements of the nozzle. They were initially probably in sets of four with perhaps one model signed in each series.

Our candlesticks are the only ones listed to date with the unusual pleated frieze motif around the socket and perhaps corresponds to those which belonged successively to the Duc de la Vrillière then to the Marquise de Langeac and finally to the decorative arts dealer Légère and his wife. Louis Phélypeaux de la Vrillière, Comte de Saint-Florentin, Minister under Louis XV, had probably ordered a set of four candlesticks from Gouthière, between 1767 and 1769 for his townhouse on Rue Saint-Florentin. In his posthumous inventory drawn up on 7 March 1777, at no. 613, in his "Sallon du Premier Etage ayant Vüe sur la Place Louis XV" we find:

"613 – Four Large Candlesticks with tapered pedestals ornate with lion heads and paws. Draperies and mouldings all in matte gilt Bronze priced at Two Hundred and eighty livres"

He probably bequeathed them to his mistress the Marquise de Langeac, as these are then found in her posthumous inventory, of 27 October to 3 December 1777, in her grand salon on Champs-Élysees Avenue:

"Four gilt copper candlesticks with ornate lion heads and draperies altogether the sum of One hundred and Fifty livres"

They were bought from this auction on 2 April 1778, by a certain Léger, which corresponds with the decorative arts dealer, Légère. Within the auction of Marquise de Langeac, the precise description is supplemented by an entry that the candlesticks were gilded by Gouthière. After Madame Légère’s death, the sale of stock and merchandise on 15 December 1784 presents in two lots, no. 215 and 216, the same candlesticks with a description specifying the pleated frieze found on our copies:

"215 - Two candlesticks, tapered pedestal shape, with pleated bands and scarves forming garlands, with squared capital with lion masks, on eight lion paws, above a plain plinth with laurel leaf roundel interlaced with ribbon and grooves of matte gilt bronze. height 13 inches. These candlesticks are remarkable for their good composition and their uniformed style. 216 - Two similar candlesticks." (fig. 2)

Regarding the historic auctions, other examples were sold during the dispersion of the collection of François-Michel Harenc de Presle, 16-24 April 1792, lot 456, and of Baron Hoorn van Vlooswyck in 1809 (see op. cit. exh. cat. Pierre Gouthière, ciseleur-doreur du roi).

Examples of the model with geometric pattern on the nozzles include:

- A pair from the collection of Sir Richard Wallace, 2 rue Laffite in Paris, then in the possession of the antique dealer Jacques Seligmann and the Galerie Pascal Izarn in Paris in 2018.

- A pair without drip pans from the collection of the Duchesse de Talleyrand née Seillière, Hôtel of Monaco, Paris, then the Duc de Talleyrand-Périgord at the château of Valençay; his auction Sotheby's, Monaco, 23 February 1986, lot 905 (fig. 3); then Karl Lagerfeld Collection; Christie's, Monaco, 28 and 29 April 2000, lot 32.

- A pair with one candlestick signed GOUTHIER. SICELEUR.DOREUR.DU.ROY was auctioned at Drouot, Paris, on 11 June 1986.

- Another pair forming two-light branch candelabras belonged to the Karl Lagerfeld Collection, sold Christie's, Monaco, 28 and 29 April 2000, lot 33; it came from the H. de L. Collection, sold Drouot, Paris, 22 January 1883, lot 104; then Raphaël collection, sold Christie's, London, 18 May 1927, lot 109.

- A pair forming a two-light branch candelabra (with a slight variation to the central stem of the lot from the K. Lagerfeld Collection), Countess of Sefton Collection, sold Christie's, London, 19 June 1980, lot 5; then Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.

- A pair auctioned T. de Maigret, Drouot, Paris, 7 December 2007, lot 138.

- A pair in the former Georges Bemberg collection; his auction, Artcurial, Paris, 20 June 2012, lot 450.

Finally, the model with an interlaced pattern on the nozzles is presented several times:

- A pair signed by Gouthière from the former Favre de Thierrens Collection (ill in S. Faniel, 1956, 130).

- A pair, sold Christie's, London, 11 June 1992, lot 72 (fig. 4).

- A pair was part of the collection of the Duchesse de Noailles and was presented at the Exhibition of 18th Century French Art in 1916.

This model became very popular because the English bronze artist, Matthew Boulton and his company Boulton & Fothergill manufactured it in silver and gilt bronze as seen in a drawing from Pattern Book I, by Boulton & Fothergill (fig. 5). He received many commissions for this model during the early part of 1770.

These four candlesticks were needle marked at the top with the letters and numbers R.1, R.2, R.3 and R.4 by Lucien Toulouse in December 1955, at the request of Comte de Ribes, before the exhibition Le Cabinet de l’Amateur, which took place a few months later.