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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

In the manner of THOMAS JOHNSON
English, 1714 - c. 1778
Pair of Torchères
c. 1760
Limewood and gilding

45 3/8 x 16 1/2 x 17 1/4 inches (each)

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Rienzi Collection, museum purchase
with funds provided by the Rienzi Society

Arts of Europe

With their naturalistically carved birds, fruit, foliage, wraparound vines, and rocky bases, these torchËres are striking examples of English Rococo style. The wit and fancy of gilded vines and fruit "growing" in a ballroom held as much appeal in the 1700s as it does for modern-day visitors.

Rococo was a predominant style for fashionable furniture and other decorative arts of the mid-18th century. The style included, among other attributes, fanciful curves, elements taken directly from nature, and a grand exuberance in carving and decoration. The era gave rise to a group of London cabinetmakers whose names and published designs are still inextricably linked to 18th-century furniture design. Thomas Chippendale, the firm of Mayhew and Ince, and Thomas Johnson were among the most prominent. Johnson, in particular, was known for his elaborate furniture designs featuring exaggerated asymmetrical curves, animals, figures, and trailing branches, all executed in the high Rococo style. TorchËres were used to hold candelabra or decorative porcelain objects. This pair was inspired by Johnson's designs.