Monumental and majestic fireplaces realized in Var Beige marble and sculpted by hand
Planning and customization of two fireplaces, suspended and identical, in First French Empire style, to be installed on two opposite walls of an elegant hall. The customer wanted a revisited and customized reproduction of an ancient work exhibited at the Louvre in Paris. The two side statues, for example, have been replaced with eagles and themed bas reliefs.
Marble: Var Beige
Dimensions of one fireplace: height 655 cm, width 325 cm
Project: Private Beaux-Arts Estate
Place: Atlanta, Georgia – U.S.A.
Award: 2019 Palladio Award – craftsmanship
For the architecture: Harrison Design www.harrisondesign.com
Relevant phases of the work realization
We have realized this work in 2000 when technology and internet were not at the avant-garde. The collection of information and the photographic material of inspiration for the sculptures and decorations have been difficult to find. The few available photos were in low resolution and they didn’t allow to distinguish the details. We worked on the whole fireplaces project and designed all the decorations in order to adapt them with the correct proportions to the real dimensions of the work to be sculpted. The complete and definitive artistic drawing, made by hand on a scale of 1:1, was sent to the customer to be applied on the wall in order to evaluate the final effect.
The two suspended fireplaces, without base, had to touch the floor in order to seem placed on the ground, without burdening on the latter. We have planned the anchorage to the supporting wall.
More information: artistic and technical design
The planning of the work steps of this monumental artistic work has been difficult. The organization of so many months of work, mainly related to the human factor, has been a great challenge.
Both fireplaces were sculpted and polished with manual tools.
Before starting to carve, we have made the clay samples and sketched the decorations on the various marble elements. In order to make the products lighter, we have dug the back of the abutments and inserted steel beams for the anchorage to the wall.
More information: artisanal manufacture
The finishing surface has been made by hand on every single piece with manual techniques and antique abrasive tools.
More information: finishings
Considering the big dimensions, the fireplaces had to be dismantled and shipped so that they could be assembled on site. The bas reliefs have been sculpted on different marble slabs. We have studied the best solution to put together the panels and to make invisible the union points.
More information: assembly and installation
The couple of fireplaces in numbers:
– 2 months of artistic and technical planning
– 7 months of work
– 50 total square meters of drawing
– 25 tonnes of rough raw material
– 14 tonnes of final weight
– 1.450 hours of drawing
– 1.200 hours of working machines
– 2.800 hours of manual work
– 1.200 linear meters of consumed abrasive paper
– 576 consumed tools
– 3,3 tonnes of wood for packaging
– 16 persons involved in the planning and manufacturing
Pills of history
“Louvre” is the name of the building that king of France Filippo II built in Paris as defensive fortress at the end of the twelfth century. After various restorations and extensions, it became a government center and the prestigious residence of the kings and emperors of France. During the revolutionary government, the architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontain restored and transformed it into a museum, opened in 1793, intended for the conservation and presentation of thousands of beautiful art works. We have taken inspiration from the fireplace located in the famous “sala delle Cariatidi”, the name comes from the four feminine statues with which the Renaissance sculptor Jean Goujon had adorned in 1550 the previous “sala dei Fiumi”. It was built during the Renaissance and subjected to different restoration works: some symbols of glorification, as the bust of Napoleon with the monogram “N” at the centre of the emblem, were applied. Two statues of Goujon, restored by the Roman mosaic artist Francesco Belloni while working in Paris, have been added on the two sides. The bust was then modified by king Luigi XVIII in order to represent Jupiter and definitively removed by the successive sovereigns.
This project has won the “2019 Palladio Award”!