Pair of andirons. Each comprising two goats with forelegs balancing on central urn and with grapes in their ouths; a thyrsus with pinecone finial extending vertically between them. The base decorated with gilt-bronze relief of cupids and grape vines against an enamel ground.
This andiron (one of a pair in the Museum’s collection) evokes the splendors of prerevolutionary France. It is made of bronze, coated with a thin layer of gold, a process involving the application of mercury that burned off in the firing, unwittingly exposing workers to the deadly effects of this toxic element.
The refined technique of the andirons suggests that they are the work of Thomire, a prominent French bronzeworker. However, they may well represent the collaborative effort of many individual specialists in modeling, casting, chiseling, and gilding. The design features goats eating grapes from a basket, while below them, against a background originally covered with blue enamel, two cherubs shear a ram. The andirons may have been made for the Hameau, Queen Marie Antoinette’s self-consciously rustic farm.
- French (Paris), about 1785
- Attributed to Pierre-Philippe Thomire, French, 1751–1843
- Paris, France
- Height of each andiron: 48.3 cm (19 in.)
- Medium or Technique
- Gilt bronze, silver-plated copper plaque decorated with oil-based paint containing Prussian blue pigment
- Accession Number
- Not on view