The “Pompadour” fireplaces

The fireplace called Pompadour, owes its name to the Marquise de Pompadour (1721-1764), companion of the king Louis XV, being at the same time his mistress, friend and adviser. She embodies decorative arts of the mid-18th century.

The "Pompadour" fireplace is characterized by two typological criteria:
- an entablature and a shelf slightly curved.
- an entablature and jambs sculpted with a circle surrounded by oblong moldings.
Generally, it has canted jambs.

The soberest model, called grooves and panels, is composed of marble slabs worked in a subtle manner. But the Pompadour fireplace can be closer to the styled-fireplace, of a more lavish production. Hence, we find numerous models with console feet adorned with volutes.

During the Haussmann works in Paris, this model knew a great fortune. This fireplace decorated with molded panels that follows its curves aroused many interpretations. They were realized into very diverse quality and color marbles.

See here our selection of Pompadour fireplace currently available at Marc Maison by clicking here.

Queen Marie Leczinska (1703-1768)

On September 5th, 1725, the Princess of Poland Marie Leczinska (1703-1768) became Queen of France (1725-1768) when she married King Louis XV. The new Queen was said to be ugly, infertile, and dim-witted. Nonetheless, the beginning of the marriage was to be a happy one and she gave birth to 10 children in 8 years.

Tired of these numerous pregnancies, Marie Leczinska closed her door to the King and the chain of royal Mistresses began: the Mailly's, the Pompadour, and finally du Barry. The King's new conquests were intriguing and nothing like the Queen who has not been raised at the Versailles Court. Despite his infidelities she remained faithfully devoted to him. She was a well-educated woman, sensible to art and music. The people nicknamed her "la bonne reine" (the good queen), because of her philanthropy, her goodness and her infinite generosity towards the destitute.

Representing the Monarchy :

During the eighteenth century, before the invention of photography, royal portraits were primarily used to make the monarchs' faces commonly known. Artisans made copies of them for private individuals under various forms, such as snuffbox lids, paintings, sculptures on wooden panels…
During the nineteenth century, the issue of the Restauration, or restoration of the monarchy, along with the taste for Historicism, led to a larger production of objects featuring portraits of the monarchs.

The Queen of France was represented several times in majestic paintings by famous artists of the time, for example:
- Portrait of Marie Leczinska by Louis Tocqué (1696-1772), 1740, Louvre Museum.
- Portrait of Marie Leczinska, Queen of France by Jean Baptiste Van Loo (1684-1745), ca. 1725, Musée des Châteaux de Versailles et Trianon.

The Edward J. Berwind’s Artwork Collection at the Metropolitan Museum, NY.

After making a fortune in his family's mining company, the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, Edward Julius Berwind was able to collect many works of art and to indulge in his passion for eighteenth-century French art.

Married to Sarah Vesta Herminie Torrey (1856-1922), Berwind did not have any children and left all of his fortune, estates, and art collections to his sister Julia A. Berwind (1864-1961).

Julia Berwind inherited the New York City estate on Fifth Avenue as well as The Elms in Newport and spent the rest of her life maintaining these mansions.

In 1953, Julia Berwind exhibited her collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, without giving up ownership. At her death in 1961, the collection was donated to the MET, where it has been exhibited to this day.

Among the major artworks of this collection, there are two Fantastic Landscapes by Francesco Guardi. These landscapes of ruins inhabited by fishermen and village people, called “Capriccios”, were most likely painted around 1780 to adorn the walls of the Castello di Collorado in Monte Albano, near Udine, North of Venice. Both of these paintings were exhibited by Edward J. Berwind in the reception hall at The Elms.

Other works by great eighteenth-century French painters include:

- Two pastoral scenes by François Boucher that form a pair, painted in 1768.

- “Les Deux sœurs” (The Two Sisters), oil on canvas by Jean Honoré Fragonard, painted in 1769-1770.

- A self-portrait of Adélaïde Labille-Guiard with two students, Marie Gabrielle Capet and Marie Marguerite Carreaux de Rosemond.

- “Madame Philippe Panon Desbassayns de Richemont et son fils Eugène” (Madam Philippe Panon Desbassayns de Richemont and her Son Eugene) by Marie Guillemine Benoist in 1802.

Berwind's taste for art was not limited to paintings, and his collection also includes many tapestries from the Imperial Russian Tapestry Manufactory of Saint Petersburg or the National Gobelins Manufactory of Paris, tapestries based on drawings by Raphael and Giulio Romano.

The collection also includes a significant group of sixteenth-century faience dishes in the style of Bernard Palissy called “Rustiques figulines”.

Finally, there is a Virgin and Child by Joos Van Cleve from 1525, from The Elms.

This exceptional collection, which epitomizes the American Golden Age, was amassed by a connoisseur of refined taste, Edward Julius Berwind. It used to embellish his luxurious mansion and now is kept in on of the world's largest museums, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Louis Ardisson, sculptor

Louis Ardisson (1848-1930) was a French sculptor during the second half of the nineteenth century. After having received conventional training at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-arts (School of Fine Arts) of Lyon along with painter Alexandre Bonnardel (1867-1942), he specialized in the production of boxwood and marble low-reliefs. He often represented themes from Antiquity and mythology, and his creations were inspired by artists such as François Boucher, Fragonard, or Charles Coypel. He chose to follow in the footsteps of the great masters, and his artwork belonged to the “Great Genre” according to Félibien's (1619-1695) classification.

The sculptor would exhibit many works in the official Salons, and in 1878, he presented Vénus chez Vulcain (Venus and Vulcan) at the World Fair in Paris. This low-relief, inspired by a monumental painting by Boucher, earned Ardisson a bronze medal.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) discovered the sculptor's work, which was soon highly esteemed by famous interior designer Jules Allard. Both Ardisson and Allard had a certain taste for eighteenth-century flamboyant art : their two styles converged. Ardisson participated in many of the decorator's projects, particularly those for the sumptuous mansions built in the United States for the wealthiest families of the time. Together, they created a spectacular fireplace representing Neptune for Edward Julius Berwind's estate on Fifth Avenue, in New York City. They also decorated the luxurious Marble House in Newport for the Vanderbilts.

Jules Allard et Fils

The Maison Allard was founded in 1832 by Célestin Allard. It first specialized in woodwork and upholstery before expanding its activity to interior design, offering complete interior decors to an upper-class clientele. The company participated in the National Exhibitions from 1844 to 1849 and began to be known in other countries when it opened a branch in Brussels.

In 1860, Célestin's son Jules Allard took over the atelier, whose international success continued to grow. In 1875, he partnered with his two sons, and the Maison Allard was renamed “Jules Allard et Fils” (Jules Allard and Sons); this is how the company would come to be known in America.

The company stood out at the great World Fairs, especially in the 1878 Fair in Paris, where Allard won a gold medal and became a knight of the Légion d'Honneur, the highest distinction in France. During this period, Allard met English interior decorator Richard Morris Hunt, which allowed him to work on the mansions of the wealthiest families of the United States. Thanks to these commissions, Jules Allard opened a branch in New York City in 1885; this way, he could create sumptuous decors for the Vanderbilt and Berwind mansions in New York and Newport. One of his major interior designs, which led to the peak of his fame, was that of the Marble House, Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt's Summer “cottage” in Newport.

He also worked for Edward Julius Berwind, managing the interior design for his estate on Fifth Avenue in New York City and designing the monumental fireplace sculpted by Louis Ardisson and presented on our website.