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  • Chandelier
    Boulle, André-Charles, born 1642 - died 1732
  • Enlarge image


  • Place of origin:

    France (Made)

  • Date:

    About 1700 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Boulle, André-Charles, born 1642 - died 1732 (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Chased ormolu.

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by John Jones

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery, case CEI, shelf Above PL5

Chandelier with dolphins made by Andre Charles Boulle, Paris, about 1700. The baluster shaft surmounted by a flame finial supports eight branches and is decorated with pairs of diving dolphins.

Physical description

Chased ormolu baluster central shaft flanked at the base by two pairs of diving dolphins surmounted by a flame finial supporting eight branches. Each branch is supported by a plinth decorated with an applied lion mask and supports circular drip pans and vase shaped nozzles. The chandelier terminates in a boss shaped as an acanthus flower head in seed.

Reinier Baarsen comments on the 'extremely fine and expressive chasing on the beautifully modelled faces and masks, and the foliage is lively and vigorous, the treatment of these elements is quite close in feeling to the mounts of the coffers attributed to Boulle' (Rijksmuseum, BK-2009-255-1,2) Paris 1650-1900, Decorative Arts in the Rijksmuseum, New Haven and London, 2013, no.16, p.94

Place of Origin

France (Made)


About 1700 (Made)


Boulle, André-Charles, born 1642 - died 1732 (Made)

Materials and Techniques

Chased ormolu.


Height: 78.8 cm, Diameter: 80.5 cm

Object history note

A chandelier with a figure of Fame (la Renommee) is listed in Boulle's workshop in 1715 as made for the Duc de Bourbon. It was valued at 1000 livres.

A chandelier with dolphins is first mentioned in the inventory of the marchand merciers Francois Darnault, father and son, who traded from the Le Roy d'Espagne, a shop in the Rue de la Monnoie, Paris- this was taken on 28th August 1753. It is given the stock number 247 and as the total stock amounted to 4863, this indicates that it had been in Darnaults' possession for some years.(Paris, Minutier Central, LXXXVIII, 629). Darnault had started trading in 1715 in the Rue Grenier, St Lazare, a manufacturing quarter, as a mirror maker. His trade card (illustrated in Carolyn Sargentson, Merchants and Luxury Markets, 1996, p.23) preserved in the Getty Museum, lists amongst his stock 'Lustres a six, huits, & dix branches, de bronze cizele, dore d'or moulu, d'or en feuille, argente et en coleur d'or'.

Andre Charles Boulle exhibition, Frankfurt RF.2009/38

Historical significance: The chandelier was examined by Dr Reinier Baarsen in July 2010 who commented on its fine casting, noting that it was of higher quality than the example in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Historical context note

Comparison with other examples attributed to Andre Charles Boulle in the Abbaye de Chaalis, the Musee Jacquemart-Andre, Paris (six branches); the J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles (inv.76.DF.13) and the Musee du Louvre (inv.0A 10513, eight branches) demonstrates that the model with dolphins is the only one which was made with both eight and six branches.

Other examples were described as 'with medals and masks' in 1717 and with 'Egyptian term figures'. Such designs were inspired by models made in silver by the goldsmith Claude Ballin (1615-1678); see Stockhom, Nationalmuseum, inv.NM THC 813,814, 862. The Egyptian term model has similar supports for the branches to those used in this model with dolphins. The incorporation of dolphins has led to the suggestion that the model was created for the Grand Dauphin (1661-1711) but there is no evidence to confirm this. The Grand Dauphin's effects were sold and dispersed after his death.Other examples passed through the sale rooms in 1898, Paris, 9 May (ex collection d'Armaille and Paul Eudel) and London, Christie's 26 May 1902 (ex collection Bardini) Another model of a chandelier in the Regence style made in the 19th century passed through Christie's 12 June 2003 lot 1023.
The dolphin model was copied in the 19th century notably for William II of Germany and was recorded in the Royal Palaces, Berlin and Potsdam.

Descriptive line

Gilt bronze chandelier, French, about 1700.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Reinier Baarson, Paris 1650-1900, Decorative Arts in the Rijksmuseum, New Haven and London, 2013, no.16, p.94
Ronfort, Jean Nérée, Andre Charles Boulle (1642-1732): Un nouveau style pour l’Europe, Paris: Somogy Éditions d'art, 2009.

Production Note

From a well known design by Boulle.


Bronze; Ormolu


Lighting; Metalwork


Metalwork Collection

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