Pair of Firedogs, 1777
Pierre Gouthière (1732–1813)
Gilt bronze and blued steel
Musée du Louvre, Paris; transfer from the Mobilier National, 1901
In 1777, Gouthière was asked to create several items for Marie Antoinette’s small Cabinet Turc at the Château de Fontainebleau. This prestigious commission included these firedogs, a chimneypiece, a chandelier, a pair of wall lights, and a shovel and tongs, the handles of which featured “African heads.” Only the firedogs and chimneypiece (still in situ at the Château de Fontainebleau) have survived.
Firedogs were designed and used as the decorative facade of an andiron, a metal support that holds burning wood in a fireplace. The design of these examples, in the shape of seated dromedaries, was in keeping with the oriental decorative theme of the Cabinet Turc, which was meant to transport the queen into a world of fantasy, sensuality, and refinement. The bases are decorated with an elegant arabesque frieze characteristic of the neoclassical style favored by the queen.