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Wall Light
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Unknown
French, Nancy, about 1700
Bois de Sainte-Lucie (Cerasus mahaleb)
H: 1 ft. 5 in. x W: 11 5/8 in. x D: 5 in.
85.DH.284

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In 1689 and again in 1709, Louis XIV ordered his subjects to turn in their possessions made of precious metals so that they could be melted down to finance his numerous war debts. Seeking suitable replacements for their lost goods, wealthy patrons turned to objects made of a hard, dense variety of cherry wood known as bois de Sainte-Lucie. Valued for its deep reddish-brown color, the wood was very hard and developed a lustrous surface when polished.

With its elaborate rinceaux and lush bunches of grapes, the wall light copies contemporary metalwork designs. Although the carver is unknown, the fluid design and intricate pierced border suggest the work of César Bagard, one of the most important artists in this medium. As the candle branch is a later addition, the backplate may once have served as part of a holy water font, an item often made in this wood.