Louis XVI style fireplace in Arabescato marble with quiver-shaped columns after the model from the Château de Fontainebleau designed by Pierre-Marie Rousseau in 1786

Arabescato marble, gilt bronze, cast iron insert .

Height : 110 cm (43’’5/16) ; Width : 194.5 cm (76’’9/16) ; Depth : 40 cm (15’’3/4).

19th century.

Made after the fireplace of the Silver Boudoir at the Château de Fontainebleau
designed by Pierre-Marie Rousseau in 1786.

This sumptuous Louis XVI style fireplace in Arabescato marble subtly veined and richly decorated with gilt bronze was made in the 19th century. With important dimensions, it was made after the fireplace model placed at the Château de Fontainebleau in the Silver Boudoir (in french : Boudoir d’argent) of Marie-Antoinette designed by the architect Pierre-Marie Rousseau in 1786 and whose it is the first important work for the court.

View of the Silver Boudoir, Château de Fontainebleau.

On the frieze are intertwined a crown of flowers and a bow on which run ivy branches, climbing plant associated with vitality in Antiquity. The bronze of these motifs is very elaborate, especially on the ivy’s stems. The frieze of acanthus leaves on the upper part and the finer one of bell flowers on the lower part of the frieze, both made of gilt bronze, support the straight lines of the fireplace.

Fireplace of the Silver Boudoir, Château de Fontainebleau.

According to Yves Carlier in Le Boudoir de Marie-Antoinette à Fontainebleau, it is probable that the sculptor Philippe-Laurent Roland (1746-1816), who is the creator of plaster figures representing Muses located above the doors, intervened also for the model of the fireplace’s bronzes and the windows’s espagnolettes, elements then realized by the bronzemaker Claude-Jean Pitoin. The white marble of the original fireplace, meanwhile, had been shaped by the marble worker Jacques-François Dropsy.

Our fireplace is the exact replica of the one of Fontainebleau, although it has some elements inherited from its century: it has curved sides, additions typical of the 19th century, adorned with crowns of roses, but designed with an eighteenth taste: as naturalistic rosettes, they are suspended by a ribbon. In the same spirit, the cast iron interior added to our model is decorated with branches and knots that intertwine.

The jambs, delicately fluted, take the form of a quiver with arrows whose feathers are made of gilt bronze. A frieze of knotted laurel branches on which stands a small lion head adorns them. This quiver motif, characteristic of the Louis XVI style, is a leitmotif in the Boudoir : on the feet of the two armchairs, on those of the stool and of the mother-of-pearl inlaid writing desk designed by Jean-Henri Riesener and on the shutters’s hooks.
Claude-Jean Pitoin, Platinum of the shutter’s hooks in the Silver Boudoir, Château de Fontainebleau.
Rodolphe Pfnor, Espagnolette of the Boudoir, drawing.

This boudoir thus has a perfect ornamental harmony: the silver-gold color of the decorative panels echo on the mother-of-pearl secretary and on the firescreen, now preserved at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and designed by Georges Jacob, who is also the author of the seats; while some of the motifs, such as quivers, or pearls and ribbons, match each other. Indeed, the motif of the bow and the crown of flowers in gilt bronze present on the frieze of this fireplace adorn also the upper part of the seats and the firescreen. The original fireplace and this shimmering decor with multiple reflections go perfectly together as the whole was designed as a total work of art.

View of the Silver Boudoir, Château de Fontainebleau.
Georges Jacob, firescreen, ca. 1786, carved beech tree, gilt and silvered, brocade,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC.

Built through ages, the Château de Fontainebleau was the residence of the French sovereigns from Francis I of France to Napoleon III. Nicknamed the "House of the centuries" by Napoleon I, it is thus the testimony of several styles and historical phases. If the first traces of a construction date back to the 12th century, the Palace mainly consists of Renaissance and classical styles elements. The one who is considered as the royal emblem of the French Renaissance, Francis I of France, made of the Palace one of its main residences and undertook several modernization works. Henry IV of France in turn enlarged the Palace, works continued, without major changes, by Louis XIII of France.
Château de Fontainebleau.

In the 18th century, Fontainebleau, replaced by the Palace of Versailles, symbol of the monarchy, was nonetheless a hunting place and society mettings but also the place for some political and diplomatic meetings. Notably, the Palace welcomed the signing of three treaties including two during the reign of Louis XVI: the Treaty of Fontainebleau signed between Austria and the Netherlands in 1785 and a treaty of business at the end of the American Revolutionary War between France and England in 1786. 1786 was also the year of the last trip of the Court to Fontainebleau during which the sovereigns had the opportunity to discover the new arrangements ordered last autumn, including the two cabinets for the Queen. One, with an exotic decor, is the Turkish Boudoir, the other, the Boudoir of the Queen, or Silver Boudoir, with the most refined decor, where is the original model of our fireplace. Named after the gold-framed silver funds on which are painted, among flowers and arabesques, grotesques painted by Michel-Hubert Bourgois and Jacques-Louis-François Touzé, the Silver Boudoir is between the rooms of the Queen and the one of the King. Created under the direction of the architect Pierre-Marie Rousseau according to the taste of the Queen, the Boudoir has an antique decor whose Marie-Antoinette was keen and whose our fireplace and its original model have some traces.

Jules-Marc-Antoine Frappaz, The Boudoir of Marie-Antoinette, 1876, oil on canvas, Musée national du Château de Fontainebleau

The Château was emptied of its furniture after the French Revolution, with consequently its dispersion since 1796. Napoleon I, who will spend the last days of his reign, gave a second life to the palace from 1804: he ordered arrangements and some operas and plays. Then, Louis XVIII and Charles X will make rare stays at the Château, while Louis-Philippe will be at the origin of the first restoration works. During the 19th century took place the latest works at the palace, which, in 1862, was listed as a historical monument. Under the Second Empire, the Palace became one of the holiday resorts of the court with Saint-Cloud, Compiègne and Biarritz: the Empress Eugenie will also be fond of the Turkish Boudoir. At the beginning of the Third Republic, Fontainebleau hosted some social and political receptions and, on rare occasions, some Presidents. It is from this period that date the painting of Jules-Marc-Antoine Frappaz preserved in the National Museum of the Château de Fontainebleau and on which is represented our fireplace surrounded by furnitures installed during the 19th century.

Our fireplace with its superb decoration, exact replica of the model of origin, is both the testimony of the splendors of the 18th century and of the history of the Château de Fontainebleau than the evolution of the fireplace in the 19th century.


CARLIER, Yves, Le Boudoir de Marie-Antoinette à Fontainebleau, Somogy éditions d'art, Paris, 2006.

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