The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Fire-screen
  • Fire-screen
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • c. 1850 (screen)
    c. 1690 (tapestry)
  • Gilt beechwood, tapestry, crimson silk lining, glazed cotton lining
  • Object size: 109 x 69.5 x 35.5 cm, screen
    Height: 76.5 cm, tapestry
    Width: 58.8 cm, tapestry
  • F285
  • Billiard Room
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • This fire-screen was made in the nineteenth century to display a piece of tapestry made at the Gobelins manufactory which has been cut down to fit the frame. In the second half of the nineteenth century older textiles such as tapestries and embroidered panels were often mounted on new furniture made in the eighteenth-century style. A fire-screen was designed to protect anyone sitting in front of it from the full heat of the fire. In the summer it was used to hide the empty grate.
    Probably woven in the late seventeenth century, the tapestry may represent a scene from a classical myth, where the god Mercury (the patron of communication, poetry, commerce and travellers) played the pipes to Argus to lull him to sleep so that he could kill him. In the 1956 Wallace furniture catalogue the design was attributed to Claude III Audran (1658-1734), but it is more in the manner of Jean Bérain (1637-1711), Louis XIV's influential Dessinateur de la Chambre et du Cabinet du Roi. The design is less advanced than Audran's designs for the Portières des Dieux, commissioned in 1699, and probably dates from before the temporary closure of the Gobelins in 1694.