Émile Coriolan Hippolyte Guillemin, the famous French sculptor, designed these exquisite bronze figural torchères in c.1880. Guillemin was an accomplished artist, who regularly exhibited at the Salon in Paris from the 1870s to 1890s. Indeed, Guillemin showcased the original models for these candelabra at the Salon of 1872 to great acclaim. Guillemin’s designs were realised in bronze by the famous metalworker and foundry owner, Ferdinand Barbedienne. The Barbedienne factory was of the leading producers of artistic bronzes in the 19th Century. The firm enjoyed great success, winning multiple awards at the major International Exhibitions of the period. The torchères are signed, ‘Ele Guillemin’ and stamped, ‘F. Barbedienne. Fondeur’, with an ‘A. Collas’ reduction stamp.
Described in Barbedienne’s catalogue of 1886 as ‘Deux Femmes, Indienne et Persane’, these torchères take the form of an Indian and Persian woman. Each figure holds a five-light candelabrum above her head, composed of scrolled branches, wide gadrooned drip-pans, and foliate urn-shaped capitals. The Persian woman wears loose trousers, with a small top and short jacket. The Indian woman is dressed in a knotted skirt and a short, beaded top. Both figures wear arm rings, earrings, and long, beaded headdresses. The details of the candelabra, the women’s jewellery, and the individual folds of the draperies they wear have been beautifully articulated by gilding.