Style Louis XIV / Ref.11122
Exceptional antique cast iron fireback with the coat of arms of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, marquis of Seignelay
Width: 46'' 117cm
Height: 43'' ¼ 110cm
Depth: 2'' 5cm
France 17th century
This exceptional cast iron fireback was made at the end of the 17th century. It 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 central cartouche is encompassed by the necklace of the Order of Saint Michael (Ordre de Saint-Michel) founded by Louis XI in 1469 and the necklace of the Order of the Holy Spirit (Ordre du Saint-Esprit) founded in december 1578 by Henri III.
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 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.
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