Claude-François Rabiat (1756-1815).
Pair of candelabras with four arms of light.
Ormolu and patinated bronze.
Signed "Rabiat" under the base.
H. 71 cm.
Probably the Ghellinck collection, in Ghent.
As a supplier to the most important bronzemakers and merchants of his time, Claude-François Rabiat rarely signed his works. He did not supply either private clients or the Garde-Meuble, but created numerous pieces for Thomire, Ravrio, Galle and Feuchère. Some of the pieces delivered for the Château de Fontainebleau by Thomire & Duterme bear Rabiat's mark, for example a pair of wall lights delivered in 1810 for the Prince’s salon.
The models he designed were given a title: Venus caressed by love, The genius of the arts or Renommée with trumpet and they exist with different variants imagined according to the request of his clients. This is why it is particularly difficult to make attributions for Rabiat, as the identification remains questionable.
In the case of our pair of candelabras, the signature made identification possible and it is highly probable that our pair appears in Rabiat's after-death inventory under the title "figures of priestesses". This inventory was drawn up in 1815 by Feuchère, assisted by the merchant Coquille, as the bronze-maker had left behind an extremely well-stocked factory.
Indeed, Claude-François Rabiat, trained from an early age in bronze work by Etienne Vignerelle, was at the head of a prosperous business from the 1780s. His great technical mastery was supported by his erudition resulted in creative pieces of great quality of execution that met the requirements of the greatests.
The pair of pythias is a beautiful expression of this virtuosity: the two women are differentiated, from the position of their hands, the locks of their hair to the folds of their clothes. The mercury gilding enhances the expression of their faces and the candelabras present a harmonious decorative repertoire with each arm of light hanging from the shaft by a swan's head.
Marie-France Dupuy-Baylet, l'Heure, le feu, la lumière, les bronzes du mobilier national 1800-1870, éd. Faton, 2010.
Denise Ledoux-Lebars, Rabiat Fournisseur des bronziers et marchands de l'époque Impériale, "L'estampille et l'objet d'art" N°246, April 1991.