France, Louis XV-Louis XVI Transition period
Chased and gilt bronze
This pair of firedogs has a leafy, moulded and slightly curved pedestal on the front, with a mascaron representing a bearded man with a leafy head in its centre. On each projecting side is a console with foliated scrolls. An ovoid vase with a pedestal and unfurled leaves surmounts a frieze of ribboned laurel leaves, which completes this decoration. Foliated garlands of berries are held by side hooks from which a collar emerges in the centre, topped by a leafy pinecone.
A Transition bronze
This bronze with its neoclassical repertoire is characteristic of the forms of the early Louis XVI period. As early as the 1750s, denouncing the extravagance of the rocaille, a small group of critics aspired to rediscover the “noble simplicity” of the masters of Antiquity. Considered since this period sign of the outset of the emergence of “Greek taste”, the trip to Italy organised by the Marquise de Pompadour to form the taste of her brother, Abel Poisson, Marquis de Vandières and future directeur général des Bâtiments du Roi in the company of the engraver Charles-Nicolas Cochin, the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot and the abbot Leblanc between November 1749 and March 1751. It was followed in December 1754 by the publication in the Mercure de France of a “supplication to the goldsmiths, Chisellers, wood sculptors for flats and other […] ” by Louis-Sébastien Mercier, a true plea for straight lines, respect for proportions and balance, and an urgent reminder to the nobility of the ancient ornamental repertoire. Responding to this new taste, cabinetmakers such as Joseph Baumhauer created, since the end of the 1750s, furniture with powerful forms and an antique repertoire. In the 1760s, facing this radical aesthetic, craftsmen quicky proposed forms that aspired to the same discourse, but with a more nuanced spirit such as these firedogs.