An extremely fine pair of Empire gilt bronze candlesticks attributed to Claude Galle, each with a circular drip-pan and vase-shaped nozzle with a six sided neck and six floral and foliate cast panels to the body, the vase foot cast with a star design and pendant drops, the six sided stem mounted on each angle by three genie heads issuing from stylised drapery, on a six sided foot with shaped cast surround on a circular base
Paris, date circa 1804-5
Height 32 cm. each.
Literature: Jean-Pierre Samoyault, â€œPendules et bronzes dâ€™ameublement entrÃ©s sous le Premier Empire; Catalogue des Collections de Mobilier, MusÃ©e National du ChÃ¢teau de Fontainebleauâ€, 1989, p. 193, no. 179, illustrating an identical candlestick (30.6 cm) by Galle in the Palais de Fontainebleau.
Jean-Pierre Samoyault, ibid. notes that Claude Galle (1759-1815) delivered three pairs of these candlesticks (sizes not documented) to the Palais de Fontainebleau. Two pairs were delivered on 19th November 1804, described as â€œ2 paires flambeaux dorÃ©s or mat tÃªtes de gÃ©niesâ€, priced at 380 francs. The third pair, described as â€œune paire [[flambeaux] Ã tÃªte de gÃ©nie, grand model, ciselÃ© et dorÃ© or mat 200â€. The first two pairs were in Galleâ€™s showroom in 1804. In 1807 one pair was in the second salon de lâ€™Empereur, the two others in the salon de lâ€™ImpÃ©ratrice. In 1810 two pairs were moved to the throne room while the other pair was in the Empressâ€™ second salon. Samoyault also notes that one pair was removed from the palace in 1871 and another pair in 1898 it is therefore possible that one of those is in fact the present pair.
As a fondeur and ciseleur, Claude Galle was almost unrivalled; his work has often been confused with that of his illustrious contemporary Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1843), with whom he sometimes collaborated. Like Thomire, Galle supplied work to Louis XVIâ€™s court and later to the Imperial household as well as the cream of Parisian society and foreign clients. Born at Villepreux near Versailles, the son of a poultry trader he travelled to Paris to begin an apprenticeship, generally assumed to be under the fondeur, Pierre Foy. In 1784 Galle married Foyâ€™s daughter and on his father-in-lawâ€™s death in 1788 Galle took over the workshop, which he built up into one 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 1â€™UnitÃ©) and from 1805 operated from 60 Rue Vivienne. First listed in the trade registers in 1784 he was received as a maitre-fondeur in 1786 and promptly gained the first of many commissions from the Garde-Meuble to furnish the royal palaces. Among many contracts he gilded fine bronze mounts for the royal Ã©bÃ©niste, Guillaume Benneman for work at CompiÃ¨gne, Fontainebleau, Versailles and Saint-Cloud.
With an appointed as an official supplier to the Garde-Meuble from the time of the Consulate up until his death Galleâ€™s commissions included numerous light fittings, figural clock cases, vases and other fine bronze furnishings for the palaces at Saint-Cloud, the Trianons, Tuileries, Fontainebleau, CompiÃ¨gne, Rambouillet and a number of the Italian palaces including Monte Cavallo, Rome and Stupinigi near Turin.
Yet despite numerous important commissions Galle was often in debt, partly on account of his lavish life style and also since many of his clients, such as Prince Joseph Napoleon, failed to pay him. After his death fellow bronzier Lucien-FranÃ§ois FeuchÃ¨re and the marchand-mercier AndrÃ© Coquille assessed his considerable stock and managed to retrieve his debts. Thus Galleâ€™s business was reopened and prospered under his son, GÃ©rard-Jean Galle (1788-1846). His work can be found among the worldâ€™s finest collections including those mentioned above as well as the MusÃ©e National de ChÃ¢teau de Malmaison, the MusÃ©e Marmottan in Paris, the Museo de Reloges at Jerez de la Frontera, the Residenz Munich and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.