OFFERED BY
$ 11,000

A pair of Bois de Saint Lucie Candlesticks

Origin France
Period Pre 18th Century
Materials elegant wood
Dimensions
H. 6.5 in; Diam. 4 in;
H. 16.51 cm; Diam. 10.16 cm;
Condition Good.
Number of Pieces 2-3
Description Literature: Similar pair with cracks and losses to rim in Collection of Baron de Redé Hotel Lambert. March 16, 2005, Lot 47. Sotheby’s, Paris.
With its vase-capped baluster, this candlestick relates to engravings of Roman style candlesticks invented by Jean Birain (d. 1711) following his appointment as Louis XIV’s “dessinateur du Chambre” in 1674.
From the time of Louis XIV to the mid-eighteenth century, an extremely hard, fine-grained wood, named Bois de Sainte-Lucie, (a type of cherry wood, named after a local convent) prunus, or mahaleb cerasus was available. The wood at the time originated in the forest at Sampigny-en-Barrois, which no longer exists. The tree, when in bloom had round, five-petal flowers with a calyx in four parts – with little green growths that tasted like sour cherries, and were black when ripe. The pit contained a type of almond. Legend had it that the woods were planted by Sainte Lucie, the daughter of a Scottish King during the Middle Ages, who planted the seeds, which grew and multiplied. Rosaries made from the “seeds” were supposed to protect the owners from depression and sterility. Until the mid-seventeenth century, in fact, the objects made were for religious use. After which, Bois de Sainte Lucie, boxwood, and sometimes ebony were used for these highly carved objects, but for secular use too.
The industry of Bois de Sainte Lucie thrived after the sumptuary edicts of 1689-1709 dictated that small personal objects such as toilette accessories, boxes, and mirrors could no longer be made of silver or gold. The noble classes looked to substitute the gold and silver with objects that were sufficiently prestigious and costly, but not of banned materials, for their gifts and personal items. The tabletiers of Nancy, using the same repertoire of designs and motifs, formerly seen on the precious metal objects, sought to replace them now with their costly carved wood pieces. The “Bagard de Nancy” objects, which were substituted for many of the luxurious gifts that custom demanded in France, were principally made in and around Nancy in Lorraine (eastern France).
The “toilettes” (dressing table sets with boxes containing perhaps a mirror, brushes, candlesticks and other boxes for powders and salves etc.) were the primary pieces made of “Bois de Sainte Lucie” and are also exceedingly scarce today. The “Bois de Sainte Lucie” was most suitable for the “toilettes,” as it was less fragile than lacquer or the fabric boxes trimmed with gimp and ribbons or tapes, (passementerie) also used for “toilettes” after the sumptuary laws went into effect.
The carving was extremely difficult due to the very hard quality of the wood, but lent itself to delicate pen knife carving – it generally had typical Louis XIV design motifs executed in low relief with acanthus leaves and other intricate foliate designs, garlands, scrolls, moldings with flowers, birds, allegorical figures, vases with flowers, vegetal motifs, armorials, and family crests denoting many levels of the nobility, who were the clients, as witnessed by their made-to-order pieces, displaying crowns and personal ciphers. The boxes, mirrors, candlesticks, etc. were made-to-order for personal use, important gifts, or the celebration of a marriage where symbols of love were often incorporated, some, even having hearts bursting into the flames of love and double ciphers. The original pieces are of superb quality with astonishingly intricate all- over, crisp carving of extraordinary finesse. While the cost was high, it was legal, as the objects did not involve the use of the banned metals. Only later in the eighteenth century did this carving style filter down to a less prominent clientele, to the detriment of the quality. Authentic boxes have a reddish brown patina and are without streaks and the interiors are a bit coarse, made from one piece of wood.
Styles / Movements Traditional
Book References Literature: Similar pair with cracks and losses to rim in Collection of Baron de Redé Hotel Lambert. March 16, 2005, Lot 47. Sotheby’s, Paris. With its vase-capped baluster, this candlestick relates to engravings of Roman style candlesticks invent
Incollect Reference Number 293059
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