Style Napoleon III / Ref.12389
Victor GEOFFROY-DECHAUME, Pair of incense burners made out of silvered bronze, adorned with dogs, circa 1840
Width: 9'' ½ 24cm
Height: 14'' ⅝ 37cm
Depth: 9'' ½ 24cm
This pair of incense burners made out of silvered bronze and adorned with dogs is a work by the goldsmith and sculptor Victor Geoffroy-Dechaume (1816-1892), as indicated by the chiselled signature on the covert’s backs.
This pair of incense burners is a testimony of the taste, combining references to the arabic and medieval arts, that develops itself during the 1840 decade, in every field of the decorative arts and in particular in the work of Victor Geoffroy-Dechaume, a prolific designer for civil and religious goldsmithing models. He entered the Beaux-Arts school of Paris in 1831, where he was the student of David d’Agners and James Pradier. His taste pushed him into dedicating himself to decorative arts, and in particular to model designs for goldsmithing, until 1848, when he discovered the medieval sculpture. He gave numerous designs for other artists to use as models, for example the bronzemaker Auguste-Maximilien Delafontaine (1813-1892) or the goldsmith François-Désiré Froment-Meurice (1801-1855). Then, circa 1850, he went for the study of monumental statuary and more accurately of medieval statuary. He became one of Viollet-le-Duc’s principal collaborators and participated thus at some of the biggest restoration sites, like the Chartres cathedral, Notre-Dame of Paris or the Sainte-Chapelle. A multiple and fecund artist, he was at the same time a restorator of religious buildings, a sculptor of monumental pieces, commemorative statues, a goldsmith for the princes and a prolific moulder. In 1855, Geoffroy-Dechaume is appointed director at the Museum for Comparative sculpture (actual Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine).
Our pair of incense burners is thus realised according to the main works of the first part of Geoffroy-Dechaume’s career. At this time he dedicated himself to decorative arts and to goldsmithing by producing models and works which ornamental references find their sources into arabic and medieval arts. We recognize these inspirations thanks to the polylobed and animated shapes of our incense burners. Made out of silvered bronze, they present on the top two small sculptures depicting dogs. Their bodies have been pounded with small, abstract patterns bringing them some texture and reminding of the oriental inspiration. The two scenes are different, since on the first one, we can see the dogs fighting, sitted, one biting the other’s neck, while on the other burner, a sitting female is nourishing her babies.
These canine figures are set on a ring adorned with oriental patterns and pierced with holes in order for the incense to spread. On the four-feeted base, the sinuous lines and the decoration does form an hybridisation between oriental art and grotesque or even monstruous forms from gothic art, for example with the stylished paw-feet or the scale motif.
Bibliography : Catalogue of the exhibition « De plâtre et d’or. Geoffroy-Dechaume sculpteur romantique de Viollet-le-Duc. » Musée d’art et d’Histoire Louis Senlecq, L’Isle-Adam, 1998.
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