A Stove for the Ceremonial Staircase at the hôtel de Montholon

Stoves, often used in place of fireplaces to heat structures, were frequently placed in thoroughfares where residents would not linger. Lequeu took this necessary but smoky feature as the basis for a meditation on architectural and bodily heat. A snaked column alludes to the famous serpentine tripod at Delphi, playfully comparing the hot air produced by the stove with oracular smoke. Above the firebox, the chaste goddess Diana holds an oil lamp suggestively, emphasizing the tension between the heat of desire and the virginity required to tend the temple fire.

Jean-Jacques Lequeu (1757–1826)
A Stove for the Ceremonial Staircase at the Hôtel de Montholon, 1785
Pen and black ink, brown and gray wash, watercolor
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Departement des Estampes et de la photographie