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Work Pair of candelabra with nine branches, six figures, mascarons and chimeras

Department of Decorative Arts: 19th century

Paire de candélabres à neuf lumières, six figures, mascarons et chimères

Decorative Arts
19th century

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

The two candelabra by Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875), also known as the "Three Graces Candelabra", depict the three competing divinities of the Judgment of Paris: Minerva, Juno and Venus. They are made of patined bronze. The various figures adorning them were reproduced in several editions at Barye's foundry. The serpentine forms and Mannerist ornaments are revelatory of the marked interest in the Renaissance during the time of Louis-Philippe.

The Judgment of Paris

On a triangular pedestal flanked with bearded masks, sit the three divinities who competed for the Judgment of Paris: Minerva, Juno and Venus. Paris was chosen by the gods as judge in the dispute opposing the three goddesses over the possession of the golden apple. Because Venus pledged Paris the love of Helen, he gave the apple to her.
Juno, the goddess of womanhood, is represented here with scepter in hand, gazing at her emblem: the peacock. Minerva, the goddess of war, a helmet on her head and her owl by her side, is depicted unclasping her belt. As for Venus, the goddess of love, she is shown mounted on a dolphin and accompanied by an Eros figure. Above the pedestal, three winged chimeras, entwined, surmount the three divinities. A group representing the Three Graces adds the final touch, crowning the composition where the branches cross. Very erudite, this decoration is a legacy of the Renaissance and of its fascination for Antiquity.

Works derived from the Mannerist School

Composed in a very architectural manner, the candelabra display a decoration based on serpentine figures. The masks with acanthus beards adorning the foot, the palmettes, the chimeras and the leather pieces all evoke the Renaissance. In the same way, the theme selected (the episode preceding the Trojan War) points back to the Renaissance and to its rediscovery of antique texts. The treatment of the feminine figures, which are characterized by ample and accentuated curves, small faces and serpentine lines could easily be the work either of the sculptor Giambologna or of the School of Fontainebleau. By twisting these bodies around the structure of the candelabra, Barye demonstrated here both his erudition and his formal creativity.

Later editions

At the very same time that he created these candelabra, Barye made a separate edition of the Three Graces group, which he later turned into a perfume burner. The Louvre owns studies in plaster and in wax of two Graces. The three goddesses were edited separately as well. Minerva with her helmet and Juno with her peacock by her side were edited with slight modifications as independent figures. Two studies of these, in plaster and in wax, are also in the Louvre. As for Venus, Barye had first to transform the head and the arms wrapped around the candelabra's stem before making her into an individual figure, which he renamed Nereid. Bronze casters commonly made new editions of their models. It was for them an additional source of income. We know that the Duke de Montpensier purchased a pair of candelabra of this kind along with a clock representing Roger and Angelica on the Hippogriff. A similar group by Barye in champlevé enamel is now in the Musée d'Orsay.

Bibliography

Leroy-Jay Lemaistre I., "Junon d'Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875), un don récent de la Société des Amis du Louvre", Sculpture à découvrir, novembre 2003.

Exposition Un Âge d'or des Arts décoratifs 1814-1848, Paris, 1991, pp. 447-448.

Technical description

  • Antoine-Louis BARYE (Paris, 1795 - Paris, 1875)

    Paire de candélabres à neuf lumières, six figures, mascarons et chimères

    1846 ?

    Paris

  • Bronze patiné

  • Legs de George Thomy-Thiéry, 1902 , 1902

    OA 5870 a, OA 5870 b

  • Decorative Arts

    Richelieu wing
    1st floor
    Duc de Nemours
    Room 81

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Additional information about the work

Signature on the rock, beneath the peacock's head: BARYE; beneath the feet of the Eros figure: a mark 2/BARYE; another mark on the pedestal of the Three Graces: BARYE.