This majestic figural torchère was designed by Émile Coriolan Hippolyte Guillemin (1841-1907), a famous French sculptor. Guillemin frequently exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1870, and received an honourable mention there in 1897. The torchère was cast in bronze by the Parisian workshop of Ferdinand Barbedienne, perhaps the most important foundry of the late 19th Century. The torchère’s base is signed ‘Ele Guillemin’ and ‘F BARBEDIENNE FONDEUR’.
Known as ‘Femme Japonaise’, this torchère is cast as a young Japanese woman. The woman is dressed in a kimono, decorated with cranes, and she wears kanzashi (ornaments) in her hair. In her left hand, she holds a seven-light candelabrum, which takes the form of a Japanese cherry blossom branch. These individual branches terminate in wide drip-pans and pierced, foliate capitals, which hold the candle tubes. In her right hand, the woman clutches a smaller piece of cherry blossom. The woman’s skin has been patinated, and her clothes, hair, and the blossom and candelabrum she holds have been articulated with gilding. The gilding has been used to highlight the individual folds of the woman’s dress, the details of the ornaments in her hair, and the delicate petals of the cherry blossom.