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Herter Brothers American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 743

This important pair of andirons are rare survivals from the iconic Herter Brothers interiors of the William H. Vanderbilt house, on 5th Avenue in New York. These appear in a photograph of Vanderbilt’s bedroom, published in Artistic Houses (1883-84). An article featured in the period journal "Decorator and Furnisher" declared "griffins and other fanciful monsters are among the choice mounting for fire irons." Appropriately, a lion’s head crowns each upright log guard. Adhering to aesthetic tenets of the 1870s and early 1880s, the lions’ heads are highly conventionalized, with their jaws wide open. Even the feet are reduced to a simplified geometric form. The uprights are further embellished with pierced stylized sunflowers, a ubiquitous and emblematic motif of the Aesthetic movement.

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