Jules Allard et Fils
Louis Ardisson, sculptor
from the Berwind Estate, 828 Fifth Avenue, New York City.
Signature : « J ALLARD ET SES FILS/INV » and « LOUIS ARDISSON FECIT »
Dimensions: H. 457 cm (180''); W. 231 cm (91''); D. 61 cm (24'')
Statuary Carrara marble, Violet Breche marble, gilded bronze, bronze with green patina.
Built for the Grand Hall on the second floor of the Berwind estate on Fifth Avenue in New York City, this monumental fireplace features a caryatid and an atlant on either side of the opening on the hearth. They are made out of gilded bronze and bronze with green patina, and the lower part of their body is entrapped in a sheath set on a bronze double lion paw.
A large low-relief made of Statuary Carrara marble and encased by a molded Violet Breche marble frame constitutes the mantel's arched pediment. Sculpted by Louis Ardisson, the low-relief, over 1.80 meters high (5.9 feet), is a representation of the “Triumph of Neptune”.
The substantial low-relief is signed by both Jules Allard et Fils and Louis Ardisson.
The fireplace lintel is adorned with another low-relief by Louis Ardisson, an allegorical representation of Winter.
The mantel is topped off by Edward Julius Berwind's monogram “EJB” inscribed in a cartouche framed with two bronze winged cupids.
Edward Julius Berwind (1848-1936)
and his sumptuous mansion on Fifth Avenue in New York City:
An ambitious entrepreneur born in Philadelphia into a family of German descent, Edward Julius Berwind made a fortune by handling the mining company his father had founded in Pennsylvania, the Berwind-White Coal Mining Company. In 1876, having acquired great success, Edward J. Berwind moved to New York City to direct the company's New York offices and purchased a lot at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue. Berwind decided to build an incredible mansion on this lot that would become his personal estate, only a few blocs away from Central Park and many wealthy neighbors such as William K. Vanderbilt, Cornelius Vanderbilt II, and Mrs. William B. Astor. He commissioned a then-rather-unknown architect, Nathan Clark Mellen, to design the estate. He chose the Parisian atelier Jules Allard et Fils for the interior design, the apex of luxury.
Edward J. Berwind saw his mansion as a treasure trove for his extensive collection of artworks, which included paintings, art objects, and tapestries.
Architecture historian John Tauranac later spoke of this estate as “nothing less of a palace […] unabashedly Louis XV and about as close to Versailles as residential New York has to offer” in the New York Times.
The fireplace was situated in the Grand Hall on the second floor, a beautiful Louis XV-style room. This hall led to the marvelous Gold Ballroom which served as a reception hall for up to 80 guests.
The mansion's lavish, luxurious decor epitomizes the American Golden Age, an era laden with architectural and decorative splendor.
An interior design created by Jules Allard, renowned Parisian cabinetmaker and interior decorator:
When he took on his father's Parisian atelier in 1860, Jules Allard was already internationally known thanks to the many World Fairs in which the company had participated.
His international career really took off after the 1878 World's Fair, where Allard won a gold medal and became a knight of the Légion d'Honneur, the highest distinction in France. At the time, the Parisian atelier already had a workforce of 400 and the Maison Allard could provide complete furnishings, woodwork, art sculptures, seats, and decorations. Allard was operating as a true decorator, which must have pleased the public at the World's Fair.
Soon after, Allard began collaborating with famous English decorator Richard Morris Hunt, with whom he executed prestigious commissions for the wealthiest families of the East Coast of the United States, like the Vanderbilts. In 1885, Jules Allard decided to open a branch in New York City. He went on to design the interiors for the “Marble House” in Newport for Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt from 1888 to 1892 and “The Breakers”, Cornelius Vanderbilt II's Summer estate in Newport. Trusting Jules Allard's name, Edward J. Berwind commissioned him to decorate his entire mansion on Fifth Avenue at the beginning of the 1890's.
“The Triumph of Neptune”,
monumental low-relief by Louis Ardisson made of Statuary marble :
The monumental low-relief entitled “The Triumph of Neptune”, made of Statuary marble, was created by Louis Ardisson, with references to major classical eighteenth-century French artworks, specifically from the Château de Versailles era. Ardisson's iconography of Neptune was inspired by Boullogne the Elder, with Neptune riding a chariot rather than a seashell as he traditionally would have. Louis Ardisson was also inspired by the monumental sculpture of the Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite created for the Neptune Fountain in the Versailles gardens. Louis XV commissioned Lambert Sigisbert Adam (1700-1759) to make the sculpture in 1736.
Louis Ardisson was the author of several other representations of Neptune, for example the low-relief adorning the Gold Ballroom in Alva and William Kissam Vanderbilt's "Marble House" in Newport.
An archetypal work of art from the American Golden Age, a time where the Vanderbilt, Astor, Carnegie, Rockefeller, Rothschild, and Berwind families had sumptuous parties in mansions specifically designed for magnificent receptions, this monumental fireplace is presented by the Galerie Marc Maison today .
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