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Work Andirons decorated with lions
Department of Decorative Arts: 18th century: neoclassicism
Chenets aux lions ailés
© 1988 RMN / Konstantinos Ignatiadis
18th century: neoclassicism
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.
BibliographyVerlet P., Les bronzes dorés français du XVIIIe siècle, 1987, pp. 225, 367, 379.Splendors of Versailles, Mississipi Arts Pavillon, Jackson Mississipi, 1998, n 106
Chenets aux lions ailés
H. : 64 cm. ; L. : 56 cm.
Provenance : grand salon de Mesdames, filles de Louis XV, au château de BellevueVersement du Mobilier national, 1901
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