'Pierre de Tonnerre' Chimney Piece
A Francois I limestone "pierre de Tonnerre" chimney piece (French, c. 1535) original to the chateau of Arnay-le-Duc (Cote d' Or) in Burgundy, France. The pilasters, surround, and frieze are carved with finely detailed tendrils, flowers, cherubs and garlands of fruit, and the hood is carved with four large circular relief roundels separated by slender, bombé colonettes each depicting a theme from "The Legend of Orpheus," from left to right: Orpheus on Earth, playing his lyre enchanting humans and beasts, Orpheus presiding over athletes and warriors, and Orpheus in the underworld pleading with Pluto and Prosperine for the release of his dead love Eurydice, while holding a lyre on one knee. Roundels shallowly inscribed with the "MB" Merlan de Beaumont family cypher and at base of colonettes, and inscribed in old French: "de gran bien me rie/et poinct ne default/ Il n' est qu' adresse quant tout prevault "Little do I care for riches/and little are they missed/ since only cleverness prevails in the end". Both inscriptions are 19th century embellishments.
426.7 x 365.8 cm (168 x 144 inches)
Preservation Society purchase, 1973.
For more information about this item, please contact its owning institution.