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A set of four French gilt-bronze wall lights possibly by Philippe Caffiéri
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About the object

A set of four gilt-bronze wall lights attributed to Philippe Caffiéri, en suite with the previous lot\nLouis XVI circa 1770, Each with a backplate surmounted by a neo-classical baluster urn with foliate cover above guilloche with fruiting and foliate swags, above three reeded acanthus and husk cast candlearms with berried-laurel swags terminating in a pine cone finial; formerly fitted for electricity\nEach 53cm. high, 46cm. wide; 1ft.9in., 1ft. 6in.
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notes

(Continues from p.168)

Przewozna op. cit.  reproduces Caffiéri's drawing for this model dated 1768 and inscribed "invante et executé par P.Caffiery Sculpteur et Ziseleur du Roy A Paris 1768' [designed and executed by P. Caffiéri, sculptor and chaser to the King, Paris 1768'  (fig.2, p. 168), and among other inscriptions Dessein de Bras de Bronze pour le Château a trois Bobèches (ibid., pp. 557-558, fig.10),  the design of which is reproduced by  Ottomeyer et al., op. cit. p.189. Nine single lights of this model survive in the Lazienki Palace illustrated by Ottomeyer et al., op. cit., p.557 (fig.3, p.168 and fig.3a)

The other set which must almost certainly have been supplied to Stanislaus being the offered model, can be identified in the 1770 inventory, although there is no drawing of the offered model in the Warsaw Palace inventory but it does correspond to the following 1770 description : "Douze autres paires des Bras moins grands a trois branches avec des vases dore, ils sont tres bien ciselé et doré d'ormoulu. [A dozen other pairs with smaller arms with three branches with gold vases, they are very well chased and gilded.]"   Also the entry refers to` Six paires de ces bras sont dans la Chambre de Marbre quatre dand la Chambre des Seigneurs près de la Chapelle et deux chez M.J. Mniszek.'The larger wall lights were divided between the Chambre de Marbre and the Chambre des Seigneurs près de la Chapelle and two more were in the appartment of a M. Muszeck, according to the contemporary inventory of the Palace.

According to Lorentz, op. cit., ' Caffiéri wrote to the King in March 1768 describing a set of seven other pairs of the same design but slightly smaller in size which he had supplied to the Palace 'plus sept autre paires de bras, moins grand aussi à trois branches pour appareiller ceux que vous avez, que vous m'avez ordonné, pris convenu à 830 livres la paire montant ensemble à 5910'. A set of  six gilt-bronze lights of the same model  (but from another Caffiéri commission for Nôtre Dame, Paris) is at the Getty Museum, see (fig.4) (see Wilson, op. cit.).  The drip- pan of one of the Getty lights is signed by Caffiéri and it has to be noted that signed works by Philippe Caffiéri are rare.

Caffiéri owed a large sum of 14,580 Livres to the gilder Pierre-François Carpentier soon after the work for Warsaw was completed. If so, according to Sir Francis Watson, op. cit.,`The wall lights are amongst the very few works of French gilt-bronze whose gilder's name we know'.

Various pairs and sets traditionally thought to originate from this original set of twenty-four have appeared at auction, including:

-A pair, lot 108, sold from the Geoffroy collection, Ader-Picard-Tajan, Paris, 2nd December 1971.

-A pair, lot 59, Christie's, New York, 30th June 1986

-A pair, lot 64a, Christie's New York, 1st November 1990.

- A further set of four wall-lights from the Winterthur Museum collection, lot 224, Christie's New York, October 14th, 1994.

-A pair, lot 100, Sotheby's Monaco, 14th December, 1996.

Philippe Caffiéri (1714-1774):

He was the elder son of Jacques Caffiéri(1673-1755), the most celebrated fondeur-ciseleur (metal caster and chaser) of Louis XV's reign.  Philippe joined his father's atelier in about 1747 and together they continued to produce works of outstanding quality for the Royal palaces of Versailles, Fontainbleau, Choisy and Marly.  The year after his father's death, in 1756, Philippe became a maître, and in the same year his style broke with rococo and became part of the nascent Goût Grec movement; in fact his mounts adorned the earliest French neo-classical furniture yet known, the suite supplied to Ange-Laurent de Lalive de Jully in around 1756-57. He also supplied chenets in this new style to anothere celebrated collector teh marquis de Marigny.

Stanislaus Poniatowski (1732-1798):

He named himself August after being elected King in 1764, and originated from an influential family with important Russian connections through his uncle Czartoryscy, which enabled him to claim the Polish throne which was not his birthright. He was (1756-58) Polish ambassador to St. Petersburg, where he became a lover of Czarina  Catherine the Great of Russia. However, five years after the French Revolution in 1789, they fell out and she had him deposed.

Stanislaus was a  committed Francophile and  his patronage of the arts is relatively well documented, and has been discussed at length byin S. Lorentz, op. cit.. Furthermore, he was educated in France in the early 1750's, and his artistic taste was highly developed, indeed avant-garde, by the beginning of the 1760's.  Through a network of French architects and marchands, he began buying French neo-classical gilt-bronzes for the Palace. However, it was Madame Geoffrin an influential patron of the Arts who became his unofficial artistic advisor and she was a great champion of the new neo-classical style. It was all due to her that after his election to the Polish throne, Poniatowski started the total redecoration of the old Royal Palace at Warsaw in the most up-to-date neo-classical style. He employed Casimir Czempinski a marchand from Warsaw as a buying agent to Paris and it is insightful to learn that the latter commented that `dans tous les achats que je fais, je donne la prérérence au bel antique, au Grec décidé' (see  Lorenz op. cit., p. 9). Victor Louis (d. 1801) was the architect engaged by Stanislaus to work on the Royal Palace together with the renowned bronzier François-Thomas Germain who were important contacts of Czempinski. In 1765 and from the second half of the decade, Stanislaus employed the cream of Parisian craftsmen and artisans for its redecoration including Jean Pillement, the designer and painter,the bronziers Jean-Louis Prieur(d. 1785-90)  and Philippe Caffiéri (d. 1774), the latter being Stanislaus's  principal bronzier.

dimensions

Each 53cm. high, 46cm. wide; 1ft.9in., 1ft. 6in.

literature

Sir Francis Watson, pp. 67-69, `A set of four gilt-bronze wall lights made by Philippe Caffiéri for the Royal Palace Warsaw'. , illustrated Partridge Fine Arts, recent acquistions, 1992, no. 25.

For a full discussion of these wall lights see the footnotes to previous lot.

provenance

Possibly part of the set of at least twenty-four made for King Stanislaus II of Poland in 1766 by Philippe Caffiéri for the Royal Palace, Warsaw

Acquired from Partridge Fine Arts, London


*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


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