Style Napoleon III / Ref.12449
Eugène Piat (attr. to), Gilt-bronze wall light
Width: 13'' 33cm
Height: 55'' ⅞ 142cm
Depth: 35'' ⅜ 90cm
France, 19th century
This important gilt-bronze wall light is a work designed by Eugène Piat (1827 – 1903), the maker is, unfortunately, not known. It is decorated with a hybrid monster, called a chimera, holding a decorated basket where the light is.
This wall light is typical of the fine art and furniture evolution in the second half of the 19th century linked with the development of a rich middle-class, who needed to show their belonging to a certain social rank by choosing abundant decor.
Thus, we observe on our light, an importance given to the decoration which does not settle for just the chimera's body but adds a lot of details. The sinuous body of the monster which seems to be held by an arm of the structure, decorated with repetitive ridges on which one of the two chimera's feet is put, is really mixed up with the entire decorative elements. Indeed, the part that could be considered as the neck at the end of which there is the human head with an open mouth, is in reality a decoration made of curls with vegetal shapes forming a crest all along. Likewise, the wings are inhabited with bronze scrolls and plants and completed with curls which allow a better support for the rest of the light and makes a counterweight to the important basket in which the light is. This basket is hung to the chimera's head by a succession of decorations. One of the two feet is stretched to the basket while the other leaned on a support decorated with a lion mascaron and curls.
We notice in this work of art, a mix between inspirations, typical of Eugène Piat's production, known for his creations responding the second half of the 19th century taste for historicism and eclecticism. Particularly fond of hybrid and fantastic figures, we find them very often in his production associated to type of objects, like here to the sinuous wall light. Our wall light responds to many inspirations and especially the Gothic and Renaissance ones, where the fantastic bestiary is particularly present but also because of the decoration choice like the lion mascaron or the vermiculated friezes. Finally, by the choice of sinuous shapes or the shape of the chimera's body which looks like a dragon one, we can also see an asiatic influence, from China, particularly present in the European arts during the second half of the 19th century.
Eugène Piat during his all career collaborated with a lot of bronze makers and sculptors for who he designed models according to their speciality, we can name for instance Louis Léon Marchand (1831 – 1899) or Victor Paillard (1805 – 1886). His numerous collaborations and participations to the International Exhibitions allow him to win important rewards and has contributed to his recognition as a very important artist. At the end of his career, he chooses to give his most important creations to the Troyes museum in France and thus participates to the creation of one of the first museum dedicated to fine arts.
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