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Work Andirons decorated with lions

Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism

Fire-dogs decorated with winged lions

© 1988 RMN / Konstantinos Ignatiadis

Decorative Arts
18th century: neoclassicism

Author(s):
Muriel Barbier

These matching andirons are made up of a base supporting a vase and a winged lion carrying a star-studded globe on its back. Mesdames, as the king's sisters were officially titled, commissioned them from the Darnault brothers for their Grand Salon at the château de Bellevue in 1784, the year they began refurnishing it to suit their tastes.

Château de Bellevue

In 1748, construction began on the château de Bellevue in Meudon (near Paris), which Louis XV ordered built for Madame de Pompadour, who lived there until 1757. In 1775, the house was given to Madame Victoire, Madame Adélaide, and Madame Sophie, the daughters of Louis XV and aunts of Louis XVI. Wanting to enlarge Bellevue and turn it into a showcase for the latest stylistic trends, they commissioned furniture and objets d'art, amongst which these andirons decorated with winged lions.

The artists: Louis-Simon Boizot and Pierre-Philippe Thomire

The sculptor Louis-Simon Boizot made the model for these monumental andirons, which were cast and engraved by the bronzesmith Pierre-Philippe Thomire (1751-1833). Thomire's name occurs often in the accounts of the Royal Furniture Repository between 1784 and 1789, in the ledgers of Louis XVI, and in those of the manufactory of Sèvres. Thomire, who hailed from a bronzesmithing family, was especially active for the Crown toward the end of Louis XVI's reign. He made two pairs of andirons for Mesdames, both for Bellevue. One set is in the Louvre, the other at the château of Versailles. Taking up the model proposed by Boizot, their intricate patterns and fine engraving attest to the bronzesmith's brilliance. In their delicacy and geometric design, these andirons are characteristic of late eighteenth-century bronze furnishings.

The Darnault brothers, famous middlemen

The Darnault brothers were merchants with a well-known clientele, including Mesdames, who often called upon them to furnish their homes. The brothers provided furniture, bronze furnishings, jewelry, porcelain, and all manner of hosehold objects. At Mesdames' request, they delivered many objects and pieces of furniture to Bellevue, as well as to their apartments at Versailles. When it came to bronze, the Darnault brothers had a gift for finding the best engravers and gilders to craft outstanding works, such as these andirons with their winged lions.

Bibliography

Verlet P., Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, 1987, pp. 225, 367, 379.Splendors of Versailles, Mississipi Arts Pavillon, Jackson Mississipi, 1998, n 106

Technical description

  • Pierre-Philippe THOMIRE (Paris, 1751 - Paris, 1843)

    Fire-dogs decorated with winged lions

    1784

    Paris

  • Gilded bronze

    H. 64 cm; W. 56 cm

  • From the Grand Salon de Mesdames, daughters of Louis XV, at the Château de Bellevue; assigned from the Mobilier National, 1901

    OA 5261

  • Decorative Arts

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