Large 19th Century Cast Iron French Fireback Featuring Greek God
Originally firebacks consisted of a big slab of iron put into the rear of a fireplace to radiate heat and to protect the firebricks from damage done by the constant throwing of wood into them. In the summer when fireplaces were not in use, people had to stare at the ugly chunk of iron. At some point someone suggested casting the iron into something beautiful, and voila – the fireback was born.
This large 19th century cast iron French antique fireback features a Greek god motif – most likely Zeus. Circa 1850, the scale of this piece is quite unique. It is unusual to find them built as a square. They were normally crafted with a tall crown, which makes them challenging to fit into modern American fireplaces. Earlier motifs included the king’s coat of arms, which were placed into the homes of his peasants. We also find firebacks that portray the arts, sports, religious and love motifs.
Some of these pieces find their home in today’s kitchens as a backsplash behind a range or cooktop.