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"Femme Indienne" | a torchiére cast from a model by Emile-Coriolan-Hippolyte Guillemin



French, 1841-1907

"Femme Indienne" (1872)

Polychromed and patinated bronze | Signed "Ele. Guillemin 1872" on the base, incised "F. BARBEDIENNE FONDEUR" and sealed with A. Collas cachet

Item # 906ARX04G 

Debuting at the Paris Salon in 1870, Emile Coriolan Hippolyte Guillemin modeled this sculpture in 1872. He became well-known for his exotic scenes of the Middle East, Africa and Far East, producing models of figures from far-flung regions: courtesans from Japan, women and men from Turkey and Algiers, hunters and falconers from the Middle East and women from India. The present example of Femme Indienne was modeled in 1872 and after acquiring the rights to produce this model and two other pairs of sculptures from Emile Guillemin, Barbedienne offered this sculpture in their 1886 catalogue as Deux Femmes, Indienne et Persane depicting both an Indian and a Persian female lifting torchieres in their upraised arms. They were offered in several heights: 200 cm, 120 cm, 95 cm and 78 cm and an example of the largest version of the pair were installed to flank the entrance to the Barbedienne estate - these were sold in 1984 (Hotel des Ventes) for 530,000 francs. Examples of Indienne selling at auction include:

  • Christie's, London, 5 March 2014, lot 108: achieved 47,500 GBP (approximately $ 78,375 USD at prevailing exchange rate of 1.65 on the date of the auction)
  • Christie's, New York, 23 April 2001, lot 292: achieved $ 30,550 USD
  • Christie's, London, 28 April 2010, lot 158: a pair including Femme Indienne and Esclave Indien achieved 49,250 GBP (approximately $ 72,300 USD at prevailing exchange rate of 1.47 on the date of the auction)
  • Bonham's, Los Angeles, 8 December 2014, lot 1389: a pair of Femme Indienne and Femme Persane in the largest size (76") achieved $ 131,000 USD

It is always interesting to compare the French franc to the price of gold to get a sense of the asking price at the time of production, aided by the fact that the French franc was pegged to gold at 0.29 grams per franc in 1873 and enjoyed great stability at this peg until the first World War. The present example is the grand reduction no. 2 at 120 cm and was offered at 3,000 francs "per idem", which translates to approximately $ 52,000 USD, a value that has held up with a stability at auction throughout the last century.

Naturally the style of candelabra or torchiere was an option based on the taste of the client during the period and a host of various lighting options have been documented with this sculpture, from expansive candelabra to blown glass shaded lamps. The present example has a replaced modern frosted glass globe in the form of a flame. The base is signed “F. Barbedienne Fondeur” in their typical lettering, the back edge retaining the A. Collas reduction seal and the base signed by her footing “Ele. Guillemin 1872”. It features a polychromed and patinated surface that was very carefully restored - the sculpture was likely situated outdoors for a time, as there is underlying discoloration to the bronze, remaining hints of verdigris oxidization and an overall soft pitting that textures the surface in many areas. Our shop has carefully cleaned and waxed it - the sculpture is now ready to place.

We have it priced attractively due to the lack of wiring, replaced torchiere globe and the repatinated surface. It is a rare figure and an extraordinary a statement piece.

Artist Listings & Bibliography:

  • Bronzes d’Art F. Barbedienne, 1886, p. 63 (Grandeur no. 2, 120cm 3,000 franc per “idem.”)
  • E. Benezit Dictionary of Artists, Gründ, 2006, vol. VI, p. 877
  • Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, 1994, p. 369-70
  • Art Bronzes, Michael Forrest, 1988, p. 476
  • Dictionnaire des sculpteurs de l'École française, vol. III, Stanislas Lami, p. 121-122

Measurements: 50 1/2” H (to top edge of torchiere well) x 12 3/4” base diameter

Condition Report: Repatinated (not the original patina); the underlying surface shows trace pitting and discoloration beneath the patina throughout; trace verdigris oxidization in a few areas. Glass globe is a modern replacement and sculpture is not wired for functionality. Two holes in base where screws would usually be used to affix the sculpture to a pedestal or column and a single hole to the reverse of the base (near the foundry cachet) where the wiring is intended to exit.