Val d’Osne Foundry – Beautiful pair of statues with Indians made of cast iron

Cast iron

Dimensions of the statues: Man: H 175 cm ; W 58 cm Woman: H 175 cm ; W 53 cm

Dimensions of the base: Man: H 89 cm ; W 52 cm Woman: H 85 cm ; W 52 cm

This pair of statues in cast iron, that represents two Native American people was made by the Val d'Osne Foundry in the late 19th century.

The muscled and aquiline-nosed man is holding in his left hand a fan composed of feathers - the small tip of a feather is missing - while raising a stick, that is the base of a torch, with his right hand. In a proud and nonchalant posture, he seems to stare the one who would look up at him.

The woman – who has the same posture as the man – also holds a fan made of feathers in her right hand. She is wearing a drapery showing her breast and her neck ornamented with some jewels made of pearls and seashells.

Both the man and the woman are wearing a bracelet on the top of their arm, respectively on the right arm and on the left arm. Details are particularly refined as the accessory seems to be engraved with geometrical patterns. The posture of these statues – a marked hip movement – gives a realistic aspect enhanced by the quality of the details. Indeed, the folds of the draperies and the ribs under the woman's left arm are sculpted with high accuracy.

Sales Catalogue, Val d’Osne Company.

Sales Catalogue, Val d’Osne Company.

These two statues were made by the Val d'Osne foundry. We can find models for these sculptures in the sales catalogues of the company, with different bases and torches. On one of the pages of the sales catalogue, we can notice a model of a late 19th century fire fender in cast iron and gilt bronze with female sphinxes made after a model by Eugène Frédéric Piat (1827-1903) that is also available on our website. The illustrations of the statues representing two Native American people differ from the other models offered by the foundry – that look inspired rather by Antiquity – which makes them even more unique. They suggest a form of exoticism through a Western style as the bodies and draperies can refer to the classical models of sculptures made at the same period of time.

During the 19th century, French literature became more and more inspired by American imagery. At the beginning of the century, the writer Chateaubriand travelled to America, which led to works imbued with images of the vast lands of the continent. French literature depicted Native American people as beings close to Nature. Generally speaking, writers and painters associated the vast lands to an utopian vision. Other travellers came back to France with stories that put light on the American society and especially on the situation of Native American people. Little by little, the distance between the New and the Old continents became shorter thanks to technical progress. We can mention the creation of the first regular transatlantic liner just before the second half of the 19th century, which reduced the length of the trip to a few weeks and increased exchanges and publications of books on this subject matter. In 1866, the first transatlantic underwater telegraph cable was laid. Among the authors who influenced the image of North America in France, we can mention for instance Louis de Bellemare, also known as Gabriel Ferry (1809-1852). He knew the south of the United States well and depicted it with details, highlighting the exotic aspect of traditions. He was the pioneer of the Far West novel genre, which combined vast lands, adventure and the struggle for territorial control. These works from the 19th century marked the French imagery, especially the iconography of Native American people, and inspired the creation of sculptures that were similar to our two statues from the Val d’Osne Foundry.

Val d’Osne Foundry, Gallery of models.

The Val d'Osne company is an art foundry created in 1835 by Jean Pierre Victor André, inventor of cast iron ornament, to manufacture urban furniture in particular. While his workshops were located at Val d'Osne in the department Haute-Marne in the northeast of France, his head office and his exhibition store were located at 58, boulevard Voltaire, in the 11th district of Paris. At his death, his nephew, Hippolyte André (1826-1891), took over the case. The foundry was very important to the point where the foundry soon absorbed competing companies like André, Barbezat and Ducel. It thus became the most important society in art cast iron in France. Famous for its contemporaries, particularly thanks to its monumental fountains, statues and large cast iron groups made after classical antique models or contemporary models, the foundry won several medals at exhibitions of products from French industry. It received a bronze medal in 1834, a silver medal in 1839, and gold medals in 1844 and 1845. It also participated at the World Fairs in London in 1851, in Paris in 1855, in Santiago in 1875, in Melbourne in 1879, in Paris in 1878, where it won the Grand Prix and two gold medals, in 1889 (not competing and jury member) and 1900 (not competing and jury member). This same year, it realized the four large gilded bronze set for the Alexandre III bridge. The sales catalogues of the company allow us today to appreciate the diversity of its objects and its various sources of inspiration. Because what made the reputation of the company, it is also its frequent collaborations with the greatest artists of the time among whom Carrier-Belleuse, Mathurin Moreau, Pradier and Eugène Piat.

Renommée (la Guerre), Pont Alexandre III, Paris, 1900, Val d'Osne.

This pair of statues made of cast iron representing two Native American people is particularly interesting through its original iconography and the quality of the production. As the work of the largest art foundry company in France, it embodies the increasing interest of French people for the United States at the time and the collective imagery of the New World.

Exceptionnal antique cast iron fireback with the coat of arms of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, marquis of Seignelay

Cast iron

H. : 110 cm / 43'' 5/16 ; W. : 117cm / 46'' 1/16 ; D. : 5 cm / 2''

Last quarter of the 17th century, France.

This exceptional cast iron fireback is decorated with the winged coat of arms of Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Seignelay, son of Louis XIV’s minister. It has a rolling viper on its center (or « bisse » using the French heraldic vocabulary) standing on his tail (« en pal »).

The edge of the cartouche – which is decorated with shells – is not a simple ornemental element, it is indeed the necklace of the Order of Saint Michael (« l’Ordre de Saint-Michel »), a chivalric order founded in 1469 in Amboise by Louis XI. It bears a medallion on which the archangel is bringing the Dragon down. When the future King visited the Duke of Burgundy’s court, he was impressed by the splendour and the prestige of the Order of the Golden Fleece (« l’Ordre de la Toison d’Or ») which enabled him to ensure favours from a great number of princes. Louis XI, as a King, created the « ordre et aimable compagnie de monsieur saint Michel ». The figure of the archangel which decorated the royal banners since Charles VII’s reign was a response to the annexation of Saint Georges by the British. The famous Saint Michael’s Mount resisted against all the British agressions during the One Hundred Years’ War. Louis XIV reformated the royal Order with two laws in 1661 and 1665 so only a few hundred knights who had exerted a military or a judicial function for at least ten years remained. The necklace had gradually lapsed and was completely ignored in the King’s reform. However it lasted in the heraldic field as confirmed by our cast iron fireback.

Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Seignelay was indeed a member of the Ordre de Saint-Michel but also a member of the Order of the Holy Spirit (« l’Ordre du Saint-Esprit ») which was founded more than a century after the former. It was created by Henri III, King of France and Poland, in december 1578. The Order meant to invigorate the catholic faith and religion, to restore the kingdom, to tighten the links with the nobility and to compensate the Ordre de Saint-Michel’s decadence. Knights of the Ordre du Saint-Esprit were first made knights of the Ordre de Saint-Michel which confered them the status of « chevaliers des ordres du roi » (knights of the King’s Orders). So the cross has on one side the image of Saint Michael and a dove on the other side as you can see on our cast iron fireback. The cross has eight pommeté tips and a fleur-de-lis on each angle. Other elements from the necklace are visible on our fireback such as the crowned « H » in reference to Henri III, the fleur-de-lis or some militaria. Knights used to have on their crest the necklace of the Ordre de Saint-Michel encompassed by the one of the Ordre du Saint-Esprit.

Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s coat of arms is visible on an engraving kept in the Musée Carnavalet in Paris. It is a portray of the marquis by the French painter Pierre Mignard. It is inserted in a medaillion which has the coat of arm with the « bisse », the crown and the two necklaces.

Pierre Mignard, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Marquis de Seignelay, engraving by Gérard Edelinck (Antwerp, 1640 - Paris, 1707, engraver), Musée Carnavalet, Paris.

On our cast iron fireback, the central coat of arms also has the crown of the marquis and a pair of wings. It is surmounted by olive branches with its fruits, a symbol of wisdom, glory and triumph. On both sides, foliated scrolls, flowers and volutes spread out. The head of a dog with a large studded collar and the head of a horse end with scrolls which are covered by Acanthus leaves. They support an architraved cornice decorated with a pine cone and bearing various attributes such as books (as a symbol of knowledge) but also parchment leaves which could be maps and a compass. The marquis de Seignelay was indeed admitted by the king to assist his father regarding Navy matters in particular. At his death, he succeded him as the Secretary of State for Louis XIV’s Navy (« secrétaire d’Etat de la Marine de Louis XIV ») until his own death in 1690. He finalised and signed the Black Code engaged by his father and secured the French Navy’s power. He played a part in the bombardment of Genoa in 1684 and in the cap Béveziers’ battle in 1690. He was appointed Minister of State in 1689.

After the work of Jean Bérain, Tenture des Attributs de la marine, 1689-1692, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Well known for his expensive taste, he spearheaded a sublime tapestry with the attributes of the Navy in six parts, two portieres and four « entre-fenêtres » which is kept in the Louvre Museum. It is one of the most documented tapestries from Louis XIV’s reign and on the the rare works which can be direcly linked to Jean Berain’s work. Colbert de Seignelay asked him, in 1685, to organise the great party he gave in the honour of the King in his castle of Sceaux. The tapestry was ordered for this castle and has been spun from 1689 to 1692 so his widow Catherine-Thérèse de Matignon-Thorigny inherited of it.

Our exceptional cast iron fireback is reproduced in the book of Henri Charpentier "Les Plaques de cheminées" and in Philippe Palasi's work intitled "Plaques de cheminées héraldiques". Only two other copies of it are known : the first one is kept in the Musée Carnavalet, in Paris and the second one in the Sceaux Castle.

Remarkable fire fender with sphinxes

Cast iron and gilt bronze

H : 72 cm / 28'' 3/8 ; L : 124 cm / 48'' 13/16 ; D : 24 cm / 9'' 7/16

Ca. 1880, France.

This fire fender made of gilt bronze and cast iron with bronze patina was made around 1880 after Frédéric Eugène Piat and is attributed to The Val d’Osne Company.

Connected by a central bar, the two andirons are adorned with female sphinxes, figures of Greek mythology. Female sphinxes have an animal body similar to a feline, and a woman's head. Some strength and vigor emanate from these two figures with protruding muscles, with a bent chest, with sharp claws, with a proud and impassive look. These characteristics accentuate their role as guardians. These two creatures, although monstrous, have a certain femininity both through the nobility of their way of holding her head and the many attires they wear. On their breast is a kind of flowery diadem and a piece, worked as a fabric and adorned with foliage, covers their shoulders. Their wings are prolonged by volutes and their head, wearing a chignon, is surmounted by a vase with handles made of gilt bronze.

They are seated upright on antique-inspired pedestals connected by the central bar. A gilt bronze rosette is fixed on these pedestals and constasts on the cast iron with auburn tones.

The central bar is very finely decorated whith volutes and flowers.

The sphinxes that adorn these andirons were made after Eugène Piat who made a pair of white marble sphinxes presented at the Salon of 1874 and similar to ours.

This motif of the sphinxes is an exception in the work of Eugene Piat but will have a certain fortune since two reproductions are exhibited at the Troyes museum: while a model, made of cast iron, was directly mold on the original model, the other, in plaster, is a reduction. Piat is the founder of this museum, which today has the most of his public works. This museum was inaugurated on May 31, 1894 and is considered as the symbol of the recognition of his career.

Frédéric Eugène Piat, Pair of female sphinxes, 1873, white marble, Salon of 1874, Selling at Drouot, june 2004, 115 000 euros.

Sphinge, after Eugène Piat, cast iron, Val d’Osne company, Troyes Museum.

Sphinge, plaster reduction,
in three-quarters view

Frédéric-Eugène Piat (1827-1903) is one of the most important French sculptors and ornamentalists of the 19th century with Louis-Constant Sévin in particular, who participated in the renewal and development of the French art bronze industry. He was active member of the Bronzes Manufacturers' Meeting (French : Réunion des fabricants de bronzes) and was part of those who have merged art and industry. He later became one of the founders of the Central Union of Fine Arts Applied to Industry (French : Union Centrale des Beaux-arts appliqués à l’Industrie) in 1864.

After setting with sculptors and ornamentalists, he started his own business in 1845 and enjoyed a good reputation in the 1850s. During the next decade, he began a collaboration with the founder Louis Léon Marchand (1831-1899). In the 1870s, he collaborated with eminent manufacturers: Georges Edouard Gagneau, Charles de Marnyhac, Emile Colin or the Val d'Osne Foundry.

The date of creation and exhibition of the sphinxes made of marble, model of our fire fender, corresponds to transition in the life of Piat. It is indeed from the year 1873 that takes place his artistic consecration: while he designed models to be exhibited at the Vienna World Fair in 1873, he received the visit of the President of the Republic Adolphe Thiers who made him Knight of the Order of the Legion of Honor for his fruitful contribution in the field of art bronze industry.

He participated in the Parisian Salons and in nine World Fairs during the second half of the century. Notably, he was very noticed during the Paris World Fair in 1878, where he exhibited a vast collection of objects and received a gold medal, but especially during the one of 1889, during which he was decorated with the Grand Prix, highest reward ever given to an industrial artist. Thanks to the quality and to the style of his productions, in keeping with the taste of the time for historicism and eclecticism, like our fire fender, Piat enjoyed a national but also international reputation.

Sales Catalog, Val d'Osne Company.

The cast iron model was edited by the Val d'Osne foundry. An illustration in a sales catalog suggests this model has been poduced in several copies, but also with some variations to correspond to various objects, as evidenced by this other illustration on which two models of candelabra are also inspired by Piat. The elements enthroned on their heads and supporting the light are similar to the decorative vases of our sphinxes. As consequence, it may be stated that our fire fender was also produced by the Val d'Osne foundry whose production was at the time very prolific.

The Val d'Osne company is an art foundry created in 1835 by Jean Pierre Victor André, inventor of cast iron ornament, to manufacture urban furniture in particular. While his workshops were located at Val d'Osne in the department Haute-Marne in the northeast of France, his head office and his exhibition store were located at 58, boulevard Voltaire, in the 11th district of Paris. At his death, his nephew, Hippolyte André (1826-1891), took over the case. The foundry was very important to the point where the foundry soon absorbed competing companies like André, Barbezat and Ducel. It thus becomes the most important society in art cast iron in France.

Sales Catalog, Val d'Osne Company.

Famous for its contemporaries, particularly thanks to its monumental fountains, statues and large cast iron groups made after classical antique models or contemporary models, the foundry won several medals at exhibitions of products from French industry. It received a bronze medal in 1834, a silver medal in 1839, and gold medals in 1844 and 1845. It also participated at the World Fairs in London in 1851, in Paris in 1855, in Santiago in 1875, in Melbourne in 1879, in Paris in 1878, where it won the Grand Prix and two gold medals, in 1889 (not competing and jury member) and 1900 (not competing and jury member). This same year, it realized the four large gilded bronze set for the Alexandre III bridge.

Renommée (la Guerre), Pont Alexandre III, Paris, 1900,
Val d'Osne.

The sales catalogs of the company allow us today to appreciate the diversity of its objects and its various sources of inspiration. Because what made the reputation of the company, it is also its frequent collaborations with the greatest artists of the time among whom Carrier-Belleuse, Mathurin Moreau, Pradier and of course Eugène Piat.

Val d'Osne Foundry, Gallery of models.

Exceptional antique Regency style complete paneled room in mahogany marquetry

Mahogany marquetry, wood of various varieties, stucco, Breccia Nuvolata marble, parquet, stained glass.

H : 224 cm / 88’’3/16 ; W : 569 cm / 224’’ ; D. : 600 cm / 236’’1/4

End of the 19th century, France

This exceptional Regency style woodwork with its fireplace was made in France in the late 19th century. This set is characterized by its remarkable marquetry work. The dominant use of mahogany, the decor made of large smooth surfaces and the ornamental vocabulary inspired by Antiquity and Etruscan style are characteristic of the Regency style which occured in Britain from the late 18th century to the 1830s. It ocrresponds to the last period of the Georgian style.

The set consists of four walls where are inserted the various elements: a fireplace and its mirror, a vitrine, two doors, a large mirror and two windows. This woodwork has a very fine and elaborate marquetry decoration made of mahogany and wood of various varieties, particularly lemon wood. The particularity lies in the many contrasts between light woods and darker woods. The jambs of the fireplace, consisting of elegant detached ionic columns, support for example a frieze decorated with mahogany marquetry and light wood. At its center are highlighted Griffins, foliage, acanthus leaves and an Antique-inspired vase. These veneer ornaments echo with the dominant taste, characteristic of the period, for smooth surfaces where the decorations are integrated into the whole.

John Nash (1752-1835), Brighton Pavilion, ca. 1820

We find this aspect in the interiors created by one of the leading architects of the period, John Nash (1752-1835), as in this watercolor representing the room of King George IV in the Brighton Pavilion in the 1820’s.

We The fireplace’s interior is made of Breccia Nuvolata marble whose clarity and brightness constrasts with the wood. The many carved friezes, typical of the style, support the straight lines of this fireplace surmonted by a large rectangular mirror. The sculptural friezes imitating Antique Greek and Roman architecture enjoyed a particular succes at the beginning of the 19th century. For example they adorn Regency style buildings and a lot of objects and the cabinetmaker George Smith devoted several pages in his book A collection of Designs for Household Furniture and interior decoration to this ornament. in this watercolor representing the room of King George IV in the Brighton Pavilion in the 1820’s.

Smith, George, Collection of designs for household furniture and interior decoration, 1808.

Another frieze, adorned with small asparagus heads, separates the wood panels with the upper part made of stucco on wood. Stucco is a very popular material for Regency style buildings and interiors. In the second half of the 18th century in Great Britain, were filed several patents concerning stucco. However its use remained discreet until the well-known Regency style architect John Nash (1752-1835) introduced it into its buildings. Stucco quickly became a means of imitation stone and its use spread out thanks to its simplicity and its uniform whiteness which seduced architects and interior designers.

The space made of stucco has a very fine decor with an Antique Greek inspired ornamental vocabulary which, at the turn of the 18th and the 19th centuries, has a surge of interest in Great Britain with for example Lord Byron. Two Antique vases are placed on three-footed athenians with rams' heads. Large moldings representing foliage, rosettes and other curves overhang the whole. An egg-and-dart frieze delimits the walls and the ceiling.

Antiquity then corresponded to a refinement and a certain rigor as much as to the taste for distant lands. Many archaeologists or simple amateurs from privileged classes thus traveled the Greek world and brought patterns and objects. This passion marked above all the first period of the Regency style, which can be delimited from 1790 to 1820, which corresponded to the beginning of the regency of the Kingdom of England by the Prince of Wales (1762-1830) until his accession to the throne. This style was concomitant with the Directoire style in France.

The Egyptian Room and The Vase Room, Household Furniture & Interior Decoration, Thomas Hope, 1807.

Thomas Hope, rich collector, traveler, decorator and writer became one of the references in Regency style interior decoration. Keen on Antiquity, he traveled through ancient Europe, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, from where he brought back a certain taste for classic lines and many objects. We can for example see in the interiors of his London home that he remodels with a series of theme interiors that will gain visibility thanks to his book Household Furniture and Interior Decoration published in 1807.

The geometric shapes, typical of the style because echoing to the straight lines of Antiquity, are also recurrent. The marquetry floor, above all, presents a remarkable geometrical decoration whose colors echo those of the whole. It is decorated at its ends with warm air heating made of brass.

Two doors, on either side, are surmounted by a medallion, as cameos, in the style of Wedgwood. They represent two dancing characters in Antique-inspired clothes on a blue background.
William Hackwood after Henry Webber, 1790-1795, Wedgwood Museum.

This motif is also on the center of the polychrome stained glass that adorn the windows of the wall adjacent to it. If these stained glass windows take the typical ornamental vocabulary of the style (rosette, foliage, curves, waves, knots, geometric shapes, draperies, bell flowers), they are a trace of one of the other Regency style inspirations, the Neo-Gothic, born in England in architecture at the middle of the 18th century.

This room thus takes the codes of the English Regency style which developed in England from the 1790s to the 1830s. If Antiquity marked especially the first phase of the style (1790-1820), this inspiration continued during the second period (1820- 1830) which corresponded in England to the reign of George IV. The decor became more ostentatious in comparison with the lightness of the first phase. Dark woods, especially mahogany, were increasingly used for furniture. The style was characterized by large smooth surfaces like our woodwork.

Made at the end of the century in France, this woodwork is part of the revival of styles that animate the arts throughout this century. This piece is very complex while having a pure and refined aesthetic. If the stucco part is characterized by purity and lightness, the woodwork is more opulent and imposing.

Louis XVI style fireplace in Arabescato marble with quiver-shaped columns after the model from the Château de Fontainebleau designed by Pierre-Marie Rousseau in 1786

Arabescato marble, gilt bronze, cast iron insert .

Height : 110 cm (43’’5/16) ; Width : 194.5 cm (76’’9/16) ; Depth : 40 cm (15’’3/4).

19th century.

Made after the fireplace of the Silver Boudoir at the Château de Fontainebleau
designed by Pierre-Marie Rousseau in 1786.

This sumptuous Louis XVI style fireplace in Arabescato marble subtly veined and richly decorated with gilt bronze was made in the 19th century. With important dimensions, it was made after the fireplace model placed at the Château de Fontainebleau in the Silver Boudoir (in french : Boudoir d’argent) of Marie-Antoinette designed by the architect Pierre-Marie Rousseau in 1786 and whose it is the first important work for the court.

View of the Silver Boudoir, Château de Fontainebleau.

On the frieze are intertwined a crown of flowers and a bow on which run ivy branches, climbing plant associated with vitality in Antiquity. The bronze of these motifs is very elaborate, especially on the ivy’s stems. The frieze of acanthus leaves on the upper part and the finer one of bell flowers on the lower part of the frieze, both made of gilt bronze, support the straight lines of the fireplace.

Fireplace of the Silver Boudoir, Château de Fontainebleau.

According to Yves Carlier in Le Boudoir de Marie-Antoinette à Fontainebleau, it is probable that the sculptor Philippe-Laurent Roland (1746-1816), who is the creator of plaster figures representing Muses located above the doors, intervened also for the model of the fireplace’s bronzes and the windows’s espagnolettes, elements then realized by the bronzemaker Claude-Jean Pitoin. The white marble of the original fireplace, meanwhile, had been shaped by the marble worker Jacques-François Dropsy.

Our fireplace is the exact replica of the one of Fontainebleau, although it has some elements inherited from its century: it has curved sides, additions typical of the 19th century, adorned with crowns of roses, but designed with an eighteenth taste: as naturalistic rosettes, they are suspended by a ribbon. In the same spirit, the cast iron interior added to our model is decorated with branches and knots that intertwine.

The jambs, delicately fluted, take the form of a quiver with arrows whose feathers are made of gilt bronze. A frieze of knotted laurel branches on which stands a small lion head adorns them. This quiver motif, characteristic of the Louis XVI style, is a leitmotif in the Boudoir : on the feet of the two armchairs, on those of the stool and of the mother-of-pearl inlaid writing desk designed by Jean-Henri Riesener and on the shutters’s hooks.
Claude-Jean Pitoin, Platinum of the shutter’s hooks in the Silver Boudoir, Château de Fontainebleau.
Rodolphe Pfnor, Espagnolette of the Boudoir, drawing.

This boudoir thus has a perfect ornamental harmony: the silver-gold color of the decorative panels echo on the mother-of-pearl secretary and on the firescreen, now preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and designed by Georges Jacob, who is also the author of the seats; while some of the motifs, such as quivers, or pearls and ribbons, match each other. Indeed, the motif of the bow and the crown of flowers in gilt bronze present on the frieze of this fireplace adorn also the upper part of the seats and the firescreen. The original fireplace and this shimmering decor with multiple reflections go perfectly together as the whole was designed as a total work of art.

View of the Silver Boudoir, Château de Fontainebleau.
Georges Jacob, firescreen, ca. 1786, carved beech tree, gilt and silvered, brocade,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

Built through ages, the Château de Fontainebleau was the residence of the French sovereigns from Francis I of France to Napoleon III. Nicknamed the "House of the centuries" by Napoleon I, it is thus the testimony of several styles and historical phases. If the first traces of a construction date back to the 12th century, the Palace mainly consists of Renaissance and classical styles elements. The one who is considered as the royal emblem of the French Renaissance, Francis I of France, made of the Palace one of its main residences and undertook several modernization works. Henry IV of France in turn enlarged the Palace, works continued, without major changes, by Louis XIII of France.
Château de Fontainebleau.

In the 18th century, Fontainebleau, replaced by the Palace of Versailles, symbol of the monarchy, was nonetheless a hunting place and society mettings but also the place for some political and diplomatic meetings. Notably, the Palace welcomed the signing of three treaties including two during the reign of Louis XVI: the Treaty of Fontainebleau signed between Austria and the Netherlands in 1785 and a treaty of business at the end of the American Revolutionary War between France and England in 1786. 1786 was also the year of the last trip of the Court to Fontainebleau during which the sovereigns had the opportunity to discover the new arrangements ordered last autumn, including the two cabinets for the Queen. One, with an exotic decor, is the Turkish Boudoir, the other, the Boudoir of the Queen, or Silver Boudoir, with the most refined decor, where is the original model of our fireplace. Named after the gold-framed silver funds on which are painted, among flowers and arabesques, grotesques painted by Michel-Hubert Bourgois and Jacques-Louis-François Touzé, the Silver Boudoir is between the rooms of the Queen and the one of the King. Created under the direction of the architect Pierre-Marie Rousseau according to the taste of the Queen, the Boudoir has an antique decor whose Marie-Antoinette was keen and whose our fireplace and its original model have some traces.

Jules-Marc-Antoine Frappaz, The Boudoir of Marie-Antoinette, 1876, oil on canvas, Musée national du Château de Fontainebleau

The Château was emptied of its furniture after the French Revolution, with consequently its dispersion since 1796. Napoleon I, who will spend the last days of his reign, gave a second life to the palace from 1804: he ordered arrangements and some operas and plays. Then, Louis XVIII and Charles X will make rare stays at the Château, while Louis-Philippe will be at the origin of the first restoration works. During the 19th century took place the latest works at the palace, which, in 1862, was listed as a historical monument. Under the Second Empire, the Palace became one of the holiday resorts of the court with Saint-Cloud, Compiègne and Biarritz: the Empress Eugenie will also be fond of the Turkish Boudoir. At the beginning of the Third Republic, Fontainebleau hosted some social and political receptions and, on rare occasions, some Presidents. It is from this period that date the painting of Jules-Marc-Antoine Frappaz preserved in the National Museum of the Château de Fontainebleau and on which is represented our fireplace surrounded by furnitures installed during the 19th century.

Our fireplace with its superb decoration, exact replica of the model of origin, is both the testimony of the splendors of the 18th century and of the history of the Château de Fontainebleau than the evolution of the fireplace in the 19th century.


CARLIER, Yves, Le Boudoir de Marie-Antoinette à Fontainebleau, Somogy éditions d'art, Paris, 2006.