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Statue de lion égyptien

Decorative Arts
19th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

In 1807, Napoleon I ordered a table service to evoke the high deeds of his reign. This pair of Sèvres biscuit candelabra was one element of the centerpiece, of which the Louvre also owns two more pieces (two tripods). Delivered in 1810, the candelabra, like other items from the service, are reproductions of antique artefacts that belonged to the Musée Napoléon.

Objects after the antique

The mastermind behind the service's conception was Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847), the director of the Manufacture de Sèvres who had copies made of antique pieces in the collection of the Musée Napoléon. The models were selected following the advice of Dominique Vivant-Denon (1747-1825), the director of the museum. The Louvre candelabra is based on a marble original that was in the Pio Clementino Museum at the Vatican before being sent to the Louvre as a result of the Tolentino Treaty (1797). Under the First Empire, it was exhibited in the Salle d'Apollon. In that period, the influence of Antiquity was particularly prevalent. The recreation in biscuit of the antique pieces seized on Italian soil was meant as a tribute to the glory of Napoleon I.

Candelabra of hard-paste porcelain

The candelabra were produced in hard-paste porcelain by the modeler Brachard the Elder. Their modeling has the quality of fine pieces of sculpture. Resting on a yellow marble base, the triangular pedestal is supported by three sheep feet interspersed with bas-relief bucrania. The baluster-shaped stem is composed of alternating ornaments with fruit and foliage motifs: acanthus foliage, laurel leaves, scrolling oak leaves and acorns. A small gadrooned basin, its rim circled with a border of ovolu, surmounts the stem, crowning the entire composition. The choice of hard-paste porcelain was a decision of Brongniart who advocated using it exclusively. This type of porcelain made it possible to conceive objects on a larger scale and achieve a quasi-monumental appearance.

A service to the glory of the Emperor

The candelabra were set in the middle of the service's centerpiece. The service itself was probably divided into four separate parts: a service for first courses, one for dessert and a coffee 'cabaret', all three in porcelain, as well as a centerpiece in biscuit. The latter was composed of a chariot , the two Louvre candelabra, two tripods, two Medici-shaped vases, sixteen figures of Napoleon in the antique manner and two Bacchus seats. All these pieces were modeled after original models in the Musée Napoléon except for the central chariot whose design is the work of the sculptor Montoni. Napoleon I wished to reinstate the large grand services of the Ancien Régime and establish a ceremonial that would strengthen his hold on power both by alluding to his war spoils and by displaying the technical superiority of the imperial manufactories.

Bibliography

Nouvelles acquisitions du département des Objets d'art (1995-2005), Paris, RMN, soon to be released.

Technical description

  • Manufacture de Sèvres

    Pair of antique candelabra from Napoleon’s table centrepiece at the Palais des Tuileries

    1810

    Sèvres

  • H. 0.87 m; W. 0.32 m

  • Gift of Mrs. Akram Ojjeh, 1997

    OA 11842, OA 11843

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Finacor
    Room 73
    Centerpiece display case

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