9235 A LARGE PAIR OF GILTWOOD NEOCLASSICAL THREE-LIGHT WALL SCONCES North Italian. Circa 1770. Measurements: Height: 50″ (127 cm) Width: 16 1/2″ (42 cm) Depth: 10 1/4″ (26 cm)
Of giltwood. Each surmounted by a stylized urn issuing flaming decoration above lotus carving surmounting the channeled central section raised on a foliate socle, flanked by hanging garlands, the original rectangular mirror plate with molded edge and original border plates set with stylized roundels and edged by a guilloche molded frame, each mirror terminating in a hanging garland with flowerhead to the center and drops to either side, with stylized foliate inverted finial issuing three original curving arms terminating in stylized candle-holders.
In this pair of mirrored sconces, richly carved decoration is combined with symbolic references to antiquity, to create a notably pure exercise in early neoclassical Italian design. There is an attention to detail seen in the carved flowerheads covering the joins in the border mirror glass which would not have been the case earlier in the century.1 The sconces, which are large in size, are unusual in that they retain their original candlearms, and are further distinguished by their original gilding.
References to classical antiquity are carved throughout the frames. They are edged with a molded guilloche pattern, an ancient architectural element found in Roman floor and ceiling mosaics. The mirror’s crest is composed of a flaming urn (also called a “flaming finial”). Urns issuing flames are associated with Vestal Virgins, priestesses of Vesta tasked with protecting the sacred flame. The urn is flanked by boughs of laurel, a reference to victory and the ancient Roman Empire, as well as the crown of the god Apollo. Laurel swags are repeated at the bottom of the frames.