Modeled as a bacchante and satyr, each holding aloft a putto, on tapering portor marble pedestal mounted with folded drapery and trailing floral garlands, on a square base applied with laurel swags and on hoof-cast feet, raised on a further shaped plinth
85 in. (216 cm.) high
Presumably ordered for Samuel Zemurray, 2 Audubon Place, New Orleans, 1917.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, New York, 18-19 April 2012, lot 413.
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Lot Essay

Magnificent torchères composed of Carrara marble embellished with vivid polychrome marble and gilt-bronze mounts lent themselves naturally to the advent of electricity during the Gilded Age and the vogue for grandiose figural candelabra. The form was championed by the leading French fondeurs, including Beurdeley, Barbedienne and Christofle, who often engaged prestigious sculptors of the time to model life-size figures supporting branches or lamps. The appetite for the crème de la crème of contemporary French décor was sufficiently documented to inspire Caldwell's affluent and well-traveled clientele to follow suit. These titans of industry, swelling with boundless wealth, engaged decorators such as Jules Allard and his contemporaries to create opulent interiors modeled on Parisian hôtel particuliers. The exquisite quality of the carving of the present herm figures coupled with the luxuriant ormolu-mounted portor marble shows the hand of the masterful sculpteur-statuaire employed by Caldwell, many of whom were highly-skilled Italian, French and German artisans.

Working drawings for the present satyr and bacchante figures appear multiple times in the E. F. Caldwell & Co. design records between 1915 and 1917. The initial design for a satyr figure, whose various elements were filed under ledger numbers A33689 (column) and A33690 (figure and putto), is recorded as a 'showroom order', thus bears the notation 'Sample'. The first fully-executed commission for a pair of torchères (A33764), including the bacchante pendant, was ordered in December 1915 for the interior decorator 'M. Etess'. Presumably, this initial pair was completed for the second floor hall of the I. Townsend Burden mansion designed by Horace Trumbauer at 2 92nd Street, New York (illustrated M. Kathrens, American Splendor: The ResidentialArchitecture of Horace Trumbauer, New York, 2002, p. 120).

Upon completion, a photographic record for the commission was entered into the Company's extensive archive. A close comparison of the marble columns reveals that the present lot does not correspond to the Etess/Burden order and is conceivably those ordered to nearly identical specifications in 1917 for an 'S. Zemurray'. In all likelihood Caldwell's patron for the second pair was Samuel 'Sam the Banana Man' Zemurray (d. 1961), former owner of United Fruit Company.

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