Pair of Wall Lights, ca. 1780
Pierre Gouthière (1732–1813)
After a design by François-Joseph Bélanger (1744–1818)
Gilt and patinated bronze
Musée du Louvre, Paris; gift of the Société des Amis du Louvre, 2002
These wall lights were intended for the large gallery-salon of the Duchess of Mazarin’s hôtel particulier. From at least the mid-1770s, Gouthière had been proposing two sizes (small and large) of poppy wall lights to his clients. However, these differ from the other models by the extreme richness of the poppy branches with numerous flowers, almost every one distinct, features that increased both the time and cost of making the lights. Some of the flowers are only buds while others are fully opened to form the candle holders. Because they were intended to be hung relatively high up, the undersides of the flowers were burnished to sparkle with reflected light.
The modeling and chasing of the flowers — especially the poppies, the flower of sleep and dreams — demonstrate Gouthière’s mastery of his craft. To appeal to a client eager for symbolic objects, a quiver of love completes their design.