Style Napoleon III / Ref.10974
Société du Val d’Osne (att to), After a model by Eugène Frédéric Piat (1827-1903) - Fire fender in cast iron and gilt bronze with female sphinxes
Width: 48'' ⅞ 124cm
Height: 28'' ⅜ 72cm
Depth: 9'' ½ 24cm
19th century, France
This fire fender made of gilt bronze and cast iron with bronze patina was made in the late 19th century 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 finely decorated. A gilt bronze rosette is fixed on these pedestals and constasts on the cast iron with auburn tones.
The sphinxes that adorn this andirons were made after Eugène Piat (1827-1903), French sculptor and ornamentist, who made a pair of white marble sphinxes presented at the Salon in 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.
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.
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.
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 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 Eugene Piat.
Extensible width from 124 cm / 48'' 13/16 to 160 cm / 63''.
Follow this link to read our blog post dedicated to this amazing fire fender.
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