Fire screen

French (Paris)
Jean-Baptiste-Claude Sené (French, 1747–1803)


105 cm (41 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Gilded beech

On View

Ann and William Elfers Gallery (Gallery 245)




Tables, stands, screens

Carved and gilded frame, scroll feet, blue brocade covered slide pulls up by small knob. Part of a suite of bedroom furniture (including Bed 21.1265, Kneeling Chair 53.2092, Bergere 26.640, 2 Armchairs 50.2342, 53.2851, and 4 Side Chairs 27.524, 27.525, 47.244, and 53.2850)

Fire screens provided protection from the direct heat of the fireplace and were designed so that the screen panel could be raised and lowered for the sitter’s comfort. A counterweight concealed in the frame held the panel in position.


1787, delivered to Marc-Antoine Thierry de Ville d'Avray, intendant-general of the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne, Paris [see note 1]; 1792, seized by the French government [see note 2]. 1794-1796, probably acquired in Paris by James Swan, Boston, MA [see note 3]; after 1796, with his wife Hepzibah Clark Swan (d. 1825), Dorchester, MA; 1825, after her death, by inheritance to their daughter, Mrs. John C. Howard; by inheritance to her granddaughter, Miss Elizabeth Howard Bartol; 1927, bequeathed by Miss Elizabeth Howard Bartol. (Accession date: September 8, 1927)

[1] see Howard Rice, "Notes on the Swan Furniture," MFA Bulletin, Vol 38, p. 36-48. [2] After the downfall of the monarchy on August 10, 1792, Thierry was imprisoned and his belongings were seized. He died in the massacres at the Prison de l'Abbaye in September, 1792. [3] James Swan was a merchant established in Paris, and was appointed an official agent for the purchase of supplies in the United States in 1794 by the French Government. His partner was Johann-Caspar Schweizer, a Swiss. According to Howard Rice, the French Government placed at his disposal luxury goods to be exchanged in America for food supplies and war materials. The Swan and Schweizer agency shipped these articles to the United States between 1794-1795, where much of it was sold. However, this piece was among those that Swan kept for his personal use. See H. Rice "James Swan, Agent of the French Republic 1794-1796" The New England Quarterly, Vol. X, No. 3, Sept. 1937, p. 464-486.

Credit Line

Swan Collection—Bequest of Miss Elizabeth Howard Bartol