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.
Flora and Zephyr represented in gilded bronze among delicate flowers garnish the jambs, as an invitation to poetry.
« 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)
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.
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.
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!