Pair of gilt and patinated bronze three-light candelabras on a triangular base. The three arms elegantly shaped as winged cherub heads, topped by candle holders decorated with fine palmette motifs. The centre drip pan and candleholder feature fan-shaped feathers at the top crowning the whole. The gilded bronze stem adorned with palmettes resting on a black patinated bronze body, a gilt bronze pinecone underneath. The whole is held by three caryatids with Egyptian masks. The supports stand on a triangular patinated bronze base with Egyptian curls and palmette leaves.
In 1798, Napoleon headed to Egypt. It was not the first time that the French conjured up such a plan. As early as 1769, the idea had arisen that conquering Egypt would help gain control over the trade with India. When Napoleon made peace with Austria during his expedition through Italy, Great Britain was the only great competing power left. As an invasion of Great Britain was not considered feasible, the earlier resolution to invade Egypt became relevant once more. This manoeuvre would seriously damage the reigning position of the British Great in the Middle East and enable Napoleon to manifest himself as the ruler.
The ambitious expedition initially got off to a promising start. But within months, while most of the troops had already reached Egypt after a few successful battles, the fleet at sea was defeated by the British. After some time in Egypt, Napoleon was eventually able to return to Paris to seize power in 1799. His remaining men in the Middle East held their ground until 1801, when they were finally defeated by the British.
The venture was a complete failure from a military point of view, but it was a great success on a cultural-scientific level. Because Napoleon had brought along many scientists in addition to his men, an abundance of information concerning Egypt and its many riches was uncovered. This sparked a great interest in, a true madness, everything having to do with Egypt. ‘Egyptomania’ revived and this was reflected in the art, architecture, fashion, applied arts and jewellery of the time in Europe.
This pair of candlesticks wonderfully illustrates how Egyptian stylistic features could be seamlessly applied to the contemporary Empire style. The base with its Egyptian masks and rigid standing supports is crowned by a much airier top half with charming cherubs, making this fine pair of candelabras an elegant ensemble.