19th century Grand Tour Pair of Bronze Atlantes: Male Support Sculptures


This delightful pair of parcel gilt bronze Atlantes is probably from a piece of furniture. Atlas (singular) is the masculine form of the more familiar caryatid. I expect this pair is form about 1850. The detail is fabulous. There is gilding on the fabric above each head, and on the knot at the belly. The back is gilded. This indicates electrogilding, so a date after about 1840. Wax would have been used to cover the parts of the bronze not to be gilded, and then the whole placed in the vat and electrogilded. The wax protects the bronze surface form the gold. Earlier gilding technologies, such as mercury gilding,  would not have left expensive gold on the unseen surfaces. The fine chiselling of the beards and feet imply earlier, rather than late 19th century work. Each Atlas is 14 cm tall, is 5 cm wide at the elbows and 3 cm deep at the top.

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