Theses andirons evokes the splendors of pre revolutionary France. They are made of ormolu 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. Most people working in this find had a life span of less then 5 years.
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 dining room at the Hameau, Queen Marie Antoinette’s self-consciously rustic farm. 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. Acquired in Paris by James Swan, Boston, MA. Swan kept them for his personal use. See my earlier blog titled "The Swan collection of 18th century furniture".