These fireplace chenets are a wonderful example of French “haute epoque” iron work. They are estimated to have been created in the early 16th century. The artistic nature and high quality of the iron work indicate they would have been created for an important fireplace, likely a noble residence. The crafting of armorial firebacks and decorative chenets in France really only began in the 1400s (although some go back to the 12th century). Iron forgers and casters of this early period were usually set up within close proximity to good water sources, dense forests, and sufficient iron ore: all necessary ingredients for the successful production of iron goods.
The andirons seen here feature a unique design: a conical finial above thick, twisting, stylized branches depicting the Tree of Life. They stand on large foliate legs with a series of scrolls, all upon wide, block feet. The large horizontal bar which supports the chenets would have supported the fire logs, allowing air to pass beneath and feed the fire. These rare French andirons are as strong as they were 500 years ago, and can be once again used to decorate and support logs in a working fireplace.
CONDITION: Very good antique condition, with wearing to motifs as seen in photos. Once chenet leans slightly forward