Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sculptures of the Day: A Pair of Italian Firedogs

Fire Dogs
Bronze, Circa 1580
The Royal Collection
Image Courtesy of
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
Firedogs are devices (metal or ceramic) which are designed to hold logs above the level of the hearth so that air can circulate beneath the firewood, thereby allowing for a more even blaze. Firedogs have been used since about 2000 B.C., and were often also employed to hold skewered meats for cooking.

This pair of bronze firedogs dates from about 1580. Crafted in Italy, possibly by the Paduan sculptor Francesco Segala, they are dominated by two figures—one of Mars and one of Hercules. The bases beneath the figures show the coat of arms of the Venetian noble family for whom they were originally designed. Some scholars believe that the original owners were Venice’s Ghisi family. However, due to a similarity to another family’s coat of arms, they have also been attributed to the Riva family.

While the exact date they entered the Royal Collection is unknown, they were first recorded in the British Royal inventory in 1724.

Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection
Via The Royal Collection Trust
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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