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Work Pair of wall lights

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism

Two pairs of wall lights with quivers and turtle doves

© 2007 RMN / Martine Beck-Coppola

Decorative Arts
18th century: neoclassicism

Author(s):
Barbier Muriel

This pair of wall lights, adorned with allegories of love, was produced for the 'cabinet de toilette' (or dressing room) of Marie-Antoinette at Saint-Cloud. Known as "lovebird" wall lights, theses pieces had a great success and were reproduced several times all throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Their refinement, exemplary of the art of the bronze casters Feuchère, is characteristic of the objects produced for the Queen.

The "lovebird" model

Two arabesque-shaped branches emerge from the stem, tied with a ribbon knot and capped with candle sockets and drip pans adorned with grape bunches. In the center, a third branch is decorated with a small naked cherub, holding a heart on fire in his hands and supporting the third drip pan on his head. At the back, two embracing turtle doves surmount the stem. These ornaments are all as many symbols of love. They are held together by a double string of pearls terminating with tassels that imitate tapestry trimmings. The "Queen's model" is a variant of the highly successful "lovebird" wall light model created by the bronzeworkers Feuchère

The model's variants

There exists another pair of wall lights, also topped with two lovebirds, but held together by a fruit garland. It was produced for the bedchamber of Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d'Avray. Two more pairs of the Queen's model were cast for the Inner Cabinet of the King at Saint-Cloud. In this instance the lovebirds were simply replaced with a bouquet of fruits and flowers. The wall lights delivered to Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI at Saint-Cloud have never left the French National Collections. Nevertheless it is difficult to establish a chronology between all these different versions. The model furnished to Marie-Antoinette is more elegant and harmonious than the others. Was it the first of the three to be produced? It is not possible to say, although Feuchère did preserve its mold.

The Feuchère and the repetition of one model

At the time these wall lights were made, two gilders by the name of Feuchère, Pierre-François and Jean-Pierre were known. Both worked for the Royal Furniture Repository. Either one of them might have been the author of this pair. Whoever their actual maker was, the lights are in any case works of great refinement and emblematic of the classicism of the late 18th century, a style softened through the theme of love with a touch of lightness. Feuchère kept the mold and continued to repeat the Queen's model into the later years of the 18th century. In the 19th century, Feuchère remained a bronze caster and went on reproducing the model that he created for Marie-Antoinette. The Musée du Louvre owns one such later pair dated 1830.

Bibliography

VERLET P., les Bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, 1987, p 378-381

Technical description

  • FEUCHÈRE

    Two pairs of wall lights with quivers and turtle doves

    1788

    Paris

  • Gilded bronze

  • From Marie-Antoinette’s Cabinet de Toilette at Saint-Cloud; assigned from the Mobilier National, 1901

    OA 5256, OA 5257

  • Decorative Arts

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