A pair of French fire-gilt bronze appliques with two arms, dating from the Régence period. The appliques are identical mirror images of each other. Each applique’s wall plate has an elegant shape and is centrally decorated with a child’s head with puffed cheeks. Above is a decorative shell with leaf patterns; below the child’s head is a collar of palmette leaves, under which are stylised dependent acanthus leaves, terminating in a floral bouquet. One of the arms is affixed above the child’s head, while the arm on the other side is affixed below the child’s head. Their asymmetric shapes emphasise the appliques’ elegant character. As is usual with candelabra and appliques from the Régence and Louis XIV periods, the arms feature dissimilar shapes and decorations. Similarly, the drip pans and bobèches on either side of the appliqué differ in appearance.
The central figure with puffed-out cheeks represents Zephyrus, the Greek god who personified the West wind. According to Greek mythology, Zephyrus is the gentlest and kindest of the four winds. The designer of these appliques has playfully incorporated this aspect by aiming Zephyrus towards one of the arms, creating the impression that the candle flame’s flickering is caused by his gentle blowing.
The French Régence period (1715-1723) covers the years following the death of the Sun King, Louis XIV, during which his brother, the Duke of Orleans, governed the country on behalf Louis XV, who was still a minor at the time. After the more ponderous and dramatic style of the Baroque, the Régence developed a lighter, more playful idiom that ultimately reached its most exuberant form during the Rococo. Artists and artisans sought to find a decorative balance through the use of dissimilar elements. Characteristic of this pair of appliques are the non-identical bobèches on the two arms, which are typical of the late Régence and early Louis XV periods.
A similar pair can be found in the collection of Charlottenburg Palace.
Parisian antiques dealer, 1987
Private collection, the Netherlands
Martina Droth, Taking shape, Leeds, 2008, p.74