A Pair of Empire Six-Light Candelabra

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Object Description

A Remarkable And Highly Important Pair of Empire Gilt-Bronze And Cut-Crystal Six-Light Candelabra Attributed To Escalier De Cristal De Paris.

French, Circa 1819.

This exceptional pair of candelabra can almost certainly be attributed to the workshops of l’Escalier de Cristal de Paris. They relate in particular to a dressing table and chair, now in the collection of the Louvre, which formed part of a toilette suite that was exhibited by L’Escalier de Cristal at the 1819 Paris exhibition of the Produits de l’industrie. The present candelabra may very likely have been made as part of this suite.

The toilette suite was purchased following the exhibition by one of Escalier de Cristal’s most famous patrons, the Duchess de Berry, Louis XVIII’s niece, and was subsequently installed in her country residence, the Château de Rosny-sur-Seine.

These candelabra display identical decorative motifs to those employed in the Louvre dressing table and chair. The crystal cornucopias, formed with a seemingly impossible complexity of curvature, are identical to the legs of the dressing table, while the gilt bronze dolphins and plinths constructed from crystal plaques are repeated on both the dressing table and the accompanying chair. The candelabra and the toilette suite are also of identical construction, with cut crystal plaques and sleeves assembled on an iron structure. The brilliance of the design is that the iron armature is almost completely dissimulated by the cut crystal elements, maintained by gilded and engraved bronze rings and collars of the highest quality.

The model for the toilette suite has been attributed to Nicholas-Henri Jacob, one of Jacques-Louis David’s former students. L’Escalier de Cristal are known to have produced a number of items based on models by Jacob, including a well documented series of cut crystal and gilt bronze decorative objects, which were supplied to Queen Marie Louise of Parma in Spain.

Escalier de Cristal (1802-1923) was established by Marie Jeanne Rosalie Désarnaud-Charpentier the daughter of a goldsmith from Châlons-sur-Marne. Mme Charpentier’s fame was secured by the success of this innovative suite of furniture at the 1819 exhibition of the Produits de l’Industrie, where she was awarded a gold medal. This exhibition, following on from the success of the Paris 1801 exhibition, was organised with a system of rewards similar to that of the Salon of the Academy, and witnessed Objects d’art celebrated and rewarded as both artistic creations and engines of the national economy. The competitive character of the exhibition led many manufactories and maisons de luxe to create objects of increasing daring and originality; for the judges and visitors the technical innovation of L’Escalier de Cristal’s creations would have been a revelation.

The large number of objects that remain today in the possession of European Royal households, that were made by L’Escalier de Cristal, attests to the success and reputation the company achieved.


Un Âge D’or Des Arts Decoratifs – 1814-1848, RMN, (Paris), 1991.

Object Details

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