An exceptional Napoleon III fireplace, after the model by Verberckt and Caffiéri for the Dauphin’s bedchamber, Palace of Versailles

Napoleon III period, circa 1860.

Red Griotte marble, gilded bronze.

After the fireplace realized in 1747 by Jacques Verberckt and Jacques Caffiéri for the Dauphin's bedchamber at the Palace of Versailles, then identically reproduced under Napoleon III notably for the Salon doré of the Elysee Palace, official residence of the President of the Republic.

Dimensions : H : 119 cm / 46’’ 7/8 ; W : 182 cm / 71’’ 5/8 ; D : 52 cm / 20’’ 1/2.

This extraordinary Red Griotte marble fireplace with gilt bronze mounts, Napoleon III period, is a perfect replica of the chimney-piece made in 1747 by Jacques Verberckt, sculptor, and Jacques Caffiéri, "sculptor, caster and chiseler of the king", for the Dauphin's bedchamber at the Palace of Versailles.
Flora and Zephyr represented in gilded bronze among delicate flowers garnish the jambs, as an invitation to poetry.

The Dauphin's bedchamber and « Flora and Zephyr » fireplace by Verberckt and Caffiéri, Palace of Versailles.

The decor of the Dauphin's bedchamber at the Palace of Versailles in 1747

Aerial view on the Palace of Versailles

Located in the Dauphin and the Dauphine’s apartments and previously known as the Regent's study, the Dauphin's bedchamber has kept its 18th century decor and layout, dating back to the time when the apartments were inhabited by Louis XV's son and his wife Maria Josepha of Saxony, between 1747 and 1765. Before they began to live in these apartments, the interior design and decor of the rooms was completely redesigned by the King's first architect, Ange-Jacques Gabriel. Thus the Dauphin's bedchamber was entirely redone and redecorated with a red Campan marble fireplace which model was designed by Jacques Verberckt, also in charge of the sculpted decorations of the apartments.
« The mantelpiece draws a rare value from its gilded bronzes: on the jambs are attached two Herm figures whose flowered sheath encloses a young figure holding flowers; on the right is Zephyr, the cheek slightly inflated by his breath; on the left, Flora, smiling, who seems to take shelter with her raised arm. The author is Jacques Caffiéri. Flora and Zephyr's chimney-piece is one of his important works, which it is pleasant to find in its old place. » (in Histoire du Château de Versailles, Versailles au XVIIIè siècle by Pierre de Nolhac, p. 107)

Watercolor drawing of the fireplace of the Dauphin's bedchamber,
in "Versailles and the two Trianons", text by Philippe Gille, from the Institute, drawings by Marcel Lambert,
architect of the Versailles and Trianon palaces, published in 1899-1900, vol. 2.

Born into a family of sculptors, Jacques Caffiéri is the most famous bronze caster during the reign of Louis XV. At once sculptor and caster-chaser, he worked for the king since 1736 and deploys his art in royal palaces such as Fontainebleau, Versailles, Choisy or Marly. The fireplace of Flora and Zephyr is then a perfect example of his prodigious talent.

Flora and Zephyr’s destiny at the time of Napoleon III

The sumptuousness of this fireplace, the important renown of Caffiéri and the unparalleled aura of the Palace of Versailles undoubtedly inspired the sculptors and bronze-makers of the 19th century. This is how we find a replica of this fireplace, made at the request of Napoleon III, at the Élysée Palace, official residence of the President of the French Republic since 1848.

Aerial view on the Élysée Palace

Located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, in the prestigious rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, this mansion was built between 1718 and 1720 by architect Armand-Claude Mollet, at the request of the Count of Evreux, Louis-Henri de La Tour d'Auvergne, hence the name of Hotel d'Evreux.

The building’s current appearance, as well as most of its interior designs, however dates back from 1853-1867 when Napoleon III decided the complete renovation of the palace by the architect Joseph-Eugene Lacroix.

Portraits of Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, after the originals by Winterhalter.
Portraits salon, Villa Massena, Nice.

This is how the Salon doré was created, a central room located on the first floor of the palace. The salon was decorated in 1861 by Ovide Savreux, sculptor, and Jean-Louis Godon, painter, to transform it as Empress Eugenie’s bedroom. The walls are decorated with tapestries from the Manufacture des Gobelins and a sumptuous fireplace in white Carrara marble adorned with gilded bronze and a cartouche bearing the N of Napoleon III. Here is the only element that differentiates this fireplace from its model from Versailles. Indeed, the gilded bronze decorating both jambs and representing Flora and Zephyr is quite identical, as well as the general design of the fireplace and its dimensions.

Flora and Zephyr fireplace, Salon doré, Élysée Palace, Paris.

Zephyr, represented as a young winged man, hair in the wind, supports an important garland of flowers that he seems to show to Flora. This one, with fine features and hair adorned with a crown of flowers, is also winged, which is a rather unusual iconography for the goddess of flowers and spring.
The gilded bronze decoration is sumptuous, very refined and delicate. This combination of marble and gilded bronze is characteristic of the Napoleon III’s period that had a particularly pronounced taste for ostentation and luxury; therein, gilt bronze is one of the preferred materials.

The Salon doré, main office of the french Presidents of the Fifth Republic

General De Gaulle, elected president in 1959, is the first to choose the Salon doré as his main office, beginning a tradition that will continue throughout the Fifth Republic till today. The President’s desk, an exceptional piece of furniture made by cabinetmaker Charles Cressent around 1740, is placed in front of the fireplace and this is how this one became the fireplace the most photographed and filmed on the 20th century in France!

The Salon doré, main office of the french President, during the presidency of General de Gaulle.

General de Gaulle in the Salon doré, Élysée Palace, circa 1959.

Georges Pompidou, president of the Republic, in the Salon doré in the early 1970s .

President François Mitterrand in the Salon doré, Élysée Palace, 1981-1995.

Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande in the Salon doré,
Élysée Palace, during their respective presidencies.

President Emmanuel Macron in the Salon doré short after his election in 2017.

The Salon doré, Élysée Palace in 2019.