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Lot n° 96


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PAIR OF LOUIS XVI PERIOD TORCH HOLDERS In the taste of Georges Jacob In carved and gilded wood, the circular top encircled by a frieze of pearls, the baluster shaft topped by rings with a frieze of pearls, gadroons and acanthus leaves, with flutes filleted with foliage, resting on a polygon adorned with foliage supported by a vase flanked by three mermaids, the triangular base with curved sides adorned in the center with a corolla of foliage, one of the two inscribed in ink L. Figini on reverse;restorations H.:161 cm (63 ¼ in.) l.:52 cm (20 ½ in.) A pair of Louis XVI giltwood porte-torcheres, in the taste of Georges Jacob Exceptional in terms of iconography, our pair of torchères stand out for the richness and variety of their ornamentation, as well as the finesse and precision of their carving. Dating from the 1780s, it was probably commissioned by a high-ranking person, a member of the Court or Finance, who was a connoisseur of art and kept abreast of interior design trends. The female figures, in the form of mermaids, are in fact associated with the Turkish fashion that the Count of Artois launched in Paris in the mid-1770s, when he fitted out his first Turkish boudoir in the Palais du Temple in 1776. One of the best-known examples of this fashion is the console table made by Georges Jacob in 1781 for the Comte d'Artois' second Turkish cabinet at the Château de Versailles, featuring mermaids leaning against the top of each of the four legs(1). Georges Jacob used this motif on other pieces of furniture, such as the broken, stamped chaise longue he made around 1780-1785, which came from the Paris antique dealer Seligmann, and later from the collection of Nélie Jacquemart, now in the Musée Jacquemart André(2). It is interesting to note that a mermaid, also very similar to figures found on our torchères, was carved to form one of the armrests on the wax model of a bergère, made around 1780 by Jacques Gondoin (1737-1818), designer for the Garde Meuble de la Couronne, for Marie-Antoinette's seats in the Pavillon de Belvédère in Versailles, now in the Musée du Louvre(3). Two further examples are a Louis XVI-period half-moon console in carved and gilded wood from the former Eugène Kraemer collection(4), which rests on caryatids in terms comparable to our own, and a nightlight from the former Diane de Castellane collection(5), which also features a mermaid leaning against the top of the backrest. Jean-Demosthène Dugourc and the arabesque taste The originality of the decor and the combination of multiple Turkish-style ornaments suggest the work of an ornamentalist. François Joseph Bélanger (1744-1818), first architect to the Comte d'Artois since 1777, or his brother-in-law Jean-Demosthène Dugourc (1749- 1825), appointed in 1780 "cabinet designer to Monsieur, the King's brother", come to mind. For Laborde, a court banker, and for Saintes James, Trésorier de la Marine, two of France's wealthiest private individuals, Dugourc designed pleasure houses and extensive English-style gardens. In 1782, Dugourc published a collection of ornaments under the title Arabesques, a name that came to characterize the ornamental fashion of the early 1780s, featuring female figures terminating in acanthus scrolls, leaning or facing each other on either side of a vase. These motifs invade painted cabinet walls and bronze furnishings(6). Also, on a French-style cabinet decoration project for the Pardo by the same Dugourc, which was never realized, torchieres are depicted on either side of an alcove, the layout of which is reminiscent of our torchieres(7) or that of the torchieres in Princess Kinsky's hôtelparisien on rue Saint Dominique(8). (1) Inv. OA 5234, see Décors, mobilier et objets d'art du Musée du Louvre, de Louis XIV à Marie-Antoinette, Paris, Louvre Éditions, 2014, pp 432-433, cat. 179. (2) Inv. MJAP-M 1445, see B.G.B. Pallot et al, Le Mobilier français du Musée Jacquemart André, Tome 1, Dijon, 2006, pp.182-185. (3) Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et des Trianon, on deposit with the Musée du Louvre, inv. V 6159, see C. Gougeon, Deux exceptionnelles maquettes de meubles en cire provenant du Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, La revue des musées de France. Revue du Louvre, 3, 2014, p.88-93 and in particular fig. 4. (4) Sale Galerie Georges Petit, April 28-29, 1913, no. 168;sale in Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Couturier Nicolay, March 31, 1994;S. de Ricci, Le style Louis XVI, Paris 1913, reproduced p.74. (5) Sotheby's Monaco,