Each of the objects depicted in this drawing was designed specifically for the Pavilion de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, in Paris, a royal pleasure palace. Though the andirons bear Queen Marie Antoinette’s initials these objects were not made for her, but rather for her brother-in-law, the Comte d’Artois. In 1777, in a one hundred thousand francs bet, the Queen challenged Artois to build a bagattella, meaning trifle or folly, in two months, just in time to receive the court returning to Paris from their summer sojourn at Fontainbleau. François-Joseph Belanger was commissioned to work on the project, whereupon he quickly enlisted Dugourc to assist him. Although to the detriment of the construction of the building, as it was plagued with leaks for years to come, d’Artois won the bet, the project being finished in an impressive sixty-four days. The reception in the honor of the Queen at the Bagatelle, was an impressive event, owed greatly to the work of Belanger and Dugourc.

Though they have faded from popularity with the advent of gas and electric heating, andirons, also known as firedogs and chenets, were once commonly used decorative objects. Their function was to hold burning logs in a fireplace and prevent them from rolling onto the floor. The earliest designs were more concerned with functionality, but under French King Louis XIV, andirons, became highly decorative and fanciful often including allegories or mythological figures. In this design the andiron on the left has an urn flanked by two sphinxes, while the andiron on the right has griffins on either side of a flame-topped altar. In the center of the design, is a sconce with six candles supported by fanciful branches, between them is a young girl with fire on her head. All three objects would have been executed in gilt bronze, which would shimmer when next to fire and candlelight. The inclusion of fire in the design of the objects may well have been a playful visual reference to their function.

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