Architecture of France: Firebacks

Far left, fireback with coat of arms of Louise-Renée de Penancoët de Kéroualle tells a story of Franco-British relations. Near top left, Louis XIV-style fireback. Near bottom left, 1728 fireback with coat of arms of Paul Jules de la Porte Mazarin

Hot properties: historic French firebacks are a grate investment

France has the richest collection of firebacks in the world, dating as far back as the Renaissance.

Marc Maison, an antique dealer based in Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine, in the northern suburbs of Paris, who specialises in the decorative arts, is passionate about firebacks.

He said: “Over the centuries, craftsmen in France developed a savoir-faire, which led to a huge diversity in imagination and decoration which does not have an equivalent anywhere else in the world. 

“I love them, above all, as objets d’art and for the history behind them.”

He is clearly not alone. People come to France from all over the world to find an antique back to suit their fireplace.

Mr Maison says it takes years of experience to learn all about the cast-iron artworks, to spot an original from a copy, and to ...

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