Extraordinary fireplace after the model of the Hercules Salon at the Palace of Versailles, coming from the Fenaille Estate at Sévérac-le-Château

Extraordinary fireplace made out of Alabastro di Busca and gilded bronze,
after the fireplace of the Salon d'Hercule at the Palace of Versailles
coming from the Fenaille Estate at Sévérac-le-Château

Late 19th century

Dimensions: Width 175 cm ; Height 141 cm ; Depth 71 cm (69 x 55.5 x 28 in)

Alabastro di Busca, gilded bronze


This magnificent Louis XIV-style fireplace made of Alabastro di Busca and gilded bronze is from the Fenaille Estate meeting room in Sévérac-le-Château, Aveyron, a Department in the South of France. It features gilded bronze ornaments such as the large lions heads placed on the jambs and the foliaged shell in the middle of the undermantel. The sides of the fireplace, adorned with bronze elements that represent falling laurel branches, are paneled. This fireplace was based on the extraordinary fireplace from the Salon d'Hercule at the Château de Versailles, reusing its shape and general aspect, the gilded bronze ornaments and the sculpted straight lines, curves, reverse curves, and volutes that bring structure to the marble.


Alabastro di Busca is an extremely rare Italian marble extracted from the quarries at Busca, a small town near Turin in the Piedmont region. This alabaster was used in Northern Italy and the rest of Europe from 1500 to 1963, when the quarry was definitively closed. It was often used to make furniture, decorative fireplaces like the two at the Bonaparte House in Ajaccio, and church altars like that of the Santissima Trinità di Busca. It is a highly decorative marble with warm shades of ochers and oranges faded into grays.


Maurice Fenaille (1855-1937)
and the Sévérac-le-Château estate :


Maurice Fenaille amassed a great fortune from the oil company founded by his father, "Fenaille et Despeaux," that he took over in 1883. He made it one of the first companies in the oil industry and then dedicated his life and wealth to collecting artwork and becoming a patron of the arts and a philanthropist. He supported artists such as August Rodin and Jules Chéret, as well as museums, for example by participating in the acquisition of Ingres' Bain Turc by the Louvre in 1911. As of 1908, he devoted his time and money to salvaging and restoring the Château de Montal in the Lot Department.

Maurice Fenaille was very attached to Aveyron, the Department that his wife was from. Hoping to bolster the region's economic development, he founded a school of agriculture, an upholstery workshop, and financed a museum for the Société des lettres, sciences et arts de l'Aveyron (the Aveyron Society of literature, sciences, and arts). Today, this museum is called the "musée Maurice Fenaille," and is situated in the Hôtel de Jouéry in Rodez, a mansion donated by Fenaille to the Society.


In 1912, he began constructing a sanatorium on the Engayresque site in Sévérac-le-Château, a care facility for Parisians who lived in Aveyron and were suffering from tuberculosis. The marvelous Alabastro di Busca fireplace was placed in the meeting room.
At Maurice Fenaille's death, the facility was given to the Department and named the "Fenaille Sanatorium". Today, the "Maurice Fenaille Hospital", renovated and reorganized, has become a medium and long-term care facility and contains 81 bedrooms.
The Local Maurice Fenaille Hospital,
Sévérac-le-Château, Aveyron.
Meeting Room at the Fenaille Estate with the exceptional Alabastro di Busca fireplace with gilded bronze lions heads.

A fireplace inspired by the Salon d'Hercule fireplace at the Château de Versailles :

The Salon d'Hercule replaced the third chapel of the Château that was destroyed in 1710. The salon's decoration was directed by Robert de Cotte from 1712 to 1715. After Louis XIV's death, the work was left unfinished for 14 years, until it was finally finished and then inaugurated in 1739, under Louis XV.
Antoine Vassé was the author of the bronze ornamentation on this impressive fireplace. He decorated the fireplace header with a head of Hercules wearing the Nemean lion's skin, flanked with volutes and garlands coming out of large cornucopias.
The lions heads on the jambs were copied for the fireplace from the Fenaille Sanatorium.
Although it is not as gigantic, the Fenaille Estate fireplace was based on the very similar original Salon d'Hercule fireplace from the Versailles Palace.

The monumental fireplace from the Hercules Salon at the Palace of Versailles. Bronze ornaments were realized by Antoine Vassé.

The original fireplace from the Salon d'Hercule was a very successful design that was widely copied, strictly and loosely, especially during the 19th century, the era of historicism, when past styles were revisited, like the Louis XIV style was for this fireplace.

By its references to the most famous palace in the world and the great French art of the 18th century, this fireplace from Maurice Fenaille's sanatorium is a magnificent work of art made of expertly sculpted Alabastro di Busca and gilded bronze. It is a work of art that epitomizes the historicism and eclecticism of the 19th century.

Oak fireplace based on the Salon d'Hercule one at the Versailles Palace,
late 19th century.
Also available at Galerie Marc Maison.

Marble House dining room. The Vanderbilts' residence in Newport, Rhode Island, USA. At the back of the room, there is a copy of the Salon d'Hercule fireplace.

Cet article est également disponible en : French

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