Designed to hold logs, firedogs or chenets take their name from the French word for a small dog. Pairs of firedogs were placed inside the fireplace, with their gilt bronze decoration concealing wrought iron bars that supported the burning wood.
To earn money to pay fines and mounting debts, the ébéniste Charles Cressent was forced to sell these firedogs, which he made, along with the contents of his house and workshop at auction in 1757. In the entry in the sale catalogue for number 163, he proudly described these pieces in the following words:
[A pair of] firedogs which represent two sphinxes, one playing with a cat and the other with a monkey, mounted on two feet, of the grandest taste. Amateurs will remark that these sphinxes are not treated like those one usually finds on firedogs; these could be considered to be one of the finest treatments in France, garnished with their sculpted and gilded ornament.