The Collection

  - A set of four rare candlesticks

A set of four rare candlesticks
Modelled by Johann Joachim Kaendler
Meissen, ca. 1737

Crossed swords mark in underglaze blue
Height 36 cm
Hitherto the only known casts

Although Augustus the Strong converted to Catholicism for political reasons, the Catholic Church did not gain the ascendancy in Dresden and Saxony until the reign of his son and successor, Augustus III (1696-1763) and his strictly religious spouse, Grand Duchesss Maria Josepha, daughter of the Emperor Joseph I of Austria. In building the court church, the first Catholic church in Dresden, the reigning couple became joint heads of the Catholic Church in the state, which subsequently gave rise to a number of commissions to artists. A particularly large number of commissions were given for sacral sculpture to Meissen between 1735 and 1745, some of it destined for the Dresden court and the rest as gifts.

Candlesticks were usually part of altar garnitures of the kind Cardinal Annibale Albani (1682-1751), nephew of Pope Clement XI, was given in 1736. It was due to his mission in Dresden in 1712 that the Elector of Saxony converted to Catholicism and Albani had been very helpful to the Elector of Saxony in his candidature for the crown of Poland.

What is known as the ‘Romish order’ or ‘commission’, as it often occurs in the records, consisted in two large Apostle figures, a crucifix and altar ware , including a chalice, a monstrance, a bell, an altar-cruet, a basin and ewer, a holy-water kettle and the tables of canon as well as six candlesticks that were 48 cm high. This set of altar ware is in the Museo Diocesano Albani in Urbino.

The complete series of the twelve Apostles with the same implements was also ordered in 1737 for Augustus III’s mother-in-law, the Dowager Empress Wilhelmine Amalia von Habsburg. Most of it is now in the Geistliche Schatzkammer in Vienna.

Unlike the candlesticks in the ‘Romish order’, which were quatrefoil and lobed in cross-section, these candlesticks stand on round bases. Like the candlesticks in the Albani garniture, only the mouldings and reliefs apart from the gold acanthus leaves are heightened with gold contours. A silver chalice in the Berlin Kunstgewerbemuseum in Berlin, dated 1740-45, stands on a similar round foot mounted with a gilded acanthus relief of Meissen porcelain. Since it is only 27 cm tall, the question arises of whether the model for the original candlestick was shortened to make the foot of the chalice (Stefan Bursche, Meissen. Steinzeug und Porzellan des 18. Jahrhunderts. Kataloge des Kunstgewerbemuseums Berlin, Vol. IX, Berlin 1980, fig. 295 p. 282f.).
Provenance: Rossi collection; Bonomi collection, Milan

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